Protected Species

Animal name: Rabbit/Hare

Type: Mammal

Habitat: Rabbits dig warrens to live in. Hares live in open fields with nests above ground

Diet: Rabbits eat grasses, clovers, cruciferous plants, fruit, seeds, roots, buds, and tree bark. Hares are also herbivores and mostly eat grass, twigs and fruit

Active: Rabbits are crepuscular, meaning they are most active in twilight hours. Hares are mainly nocturnal creatures, who feed during the night and rest in the day

Family: Male rabbit is called a buck, male hare is a Jack

Female rabbit is called a doe, female hare is a Jill

Babies/young rabbits are called kits, hares are leverets


Where do you find rabbits/hares?

Rabbits are mostly found in woodland areas whereas hares are in open grassy areas. Rabbits create their own homes by tunnelling into the ground and creating warrens. They will have multiple entrances for a quick escape. Hares live in open fields with nests above ground and do not live in groups.

What do they eat?

Rabbits are herbivores. The diet includes grasses, clovers, and cruciferous plants. They are also known to eat fruit, seeds, roots, buds, and tree bark. Hares are also herbivores and mostly eat grass, twigs and fruit. Hares are also herbivores and mostly eat grass, twigs and fruit.

What threats do rabbits/hares face?

Rabbits breed three to four times per year. Each pregnancy produces three to eight kits. After four to five weeks, the young can care for itself, and within two to three months they are ready to start a family of their own. In the first month they are completely helpless and unable to survive without their mothers.

Rabbits and hares are also at risk of habitat loss, becoming caught in snares or fences, or being involved in road traffic accidents.

What common problems/reasons lead to rabbits/hares being cared by the Scottish SPCA?

Baby hares are often brought in to our care when they don’t actually need our help. This puts a huge strain on the staff and space at our wildlife hospital.

Baby hares are left by their mothers in long grass and undergrowth rather than burrows. Unfortunately, this can lead to well-meaning members of the public mistaking them for displaced baby rabbits and taking them away from their mothers.

The physical and behavioural differences to look out for are:

  • Rabbits are born completely helpless, naked and blind, their mother will be very protective of them.
  • Rabbits live in nests in burrows.
  • Hares are born fully furred, able to see and capable of movement.
  • Hares are generally larger with longer hind legs than rabbits and longer ears with characteristic black markings.


I've come across...

An injured or sick rabbit/hare

If you can clearly see that a rabbit or hare is sick or injured, call our helpline on 03000 999 999.

If you are unsure, please monitor the animal from a safe distance. If you see a baby hare please monitor and wait to see if their mother returns.

Orphaned baby rabbit

If you spot a baby hare they most likely does not need our help. If you spot a baby rabbit alone they will definitely need assistance. Please contact our helpline on 03000 999 999 for advice.

Dead rabbit or hare

If you find a dead rabbit or hare, please report this to your local council.


How do we help rabbits/hares at the National Wildlife Rescue Centre?

Any rabbits or hares in need are taken in to the care of our National Wildlife Rescue Centre.

Our dedicated team will then treat and care for the animal until they areold enough and strong enough to be released back into the wild. When a baby rabbit comes in to our care, they need to be hand-reared to simulate the care they would receive from their mother. This means that they need round-the-clock care from our team. As soon as they are old enough, our team will be as hands off as possible to prepare them for a life back in the wild.