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Lepus

hare, enemies, considerable, attended, species, glires and ones

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LEPUS, the hare, in natural history, a genus of Mammalia, of the order Glires. Generic character : two fore-teeth above and below ; the upper pair double, two small ones standing within the exterior. These animals exhibit several considera ble differences from those of the order Glires in general, to which, however, up on the whole, they are with more propri ety attached than to any other. By an ap pearance of rumination, they appear somewhat connected with the Pecora. There are fifteen species, of which the following chiefly deserve notice.

L. timidus, or the English hare. This animal is a native of almost every coun try of the old continent, and is generally of the length of two feet. Its upper lip is divided, and its eyes are extremely pro jected, and, it is said, kept open by it during sleep. It subsists on a great va riety of vegetables, particularly those which possess milky qualities ; the bark of young trees, and their tender are likewise often taken by them for foOd. It produces generally three young ones at a time, and breeds at least three times in a year. The hare seldom quits its seat, or form, as it is called, during the day, unless compelled by the approach of enemies ; but takes its range for food and excursion by night, always returning., it is said, to her habitation by the same track by which it was left. In this form it wilt sometimes suffer itself to be approached 'so nearly, as to be nearly trodden upon before it starts for escape ; the first ad vances of the enemy having probably not attracted its attention, and those which immediately followed, being, attended by a species of fascination, or prostration of energy; the frequent effect of terror, till, at length, the imminence of its danger rouses every nerve and muscle, to exer tions which enable it to leave its enemies at a considerable distance. Its fleetness is such, as to give it the advantage over many of its numerous adversaries. Its quickness of hearing, and comprehen sion of sight, by which last it receives the impressions of objects on almost every side, are also important means of its protection. The,similavity of its co

lour, likewise, to that of the ground, is an other circumstance considerably in its fa. your. In the more northern regions, dur ing the rigours of whiter, its coat be comes of a perfect whiteness. By the particular structure of the hind-feet of this animal, it is qualified to run with ra pidity up a considerable ascent, and seems to be conscious of this advantage, by fre quently taking such a direction as gives it the full benefit of this peculiarity.

The average duration of the hare is about seven years ; but so numerous are its enemies, that, notwithstanding the ad vantages above-mentioned, it very fre quently fails to attain its natural term. It is pursued by dogs and foxes with mor tal and unrelenting antipathy. Weasels, wild-cats, and wolves, seize and devour it whenever it is within their reach ; and eagles, hawks, and other birds of prey, are also destructive enemies ; but the most formidable of all is man, who finds one of the most interesting of his diver sions in its persecution, and one of the highest luxuries of his table in its flesh. Indeed, so prolific is the hare, that with out experiencing very considerable hos tility, it would multiply to a most injurious degree ; and in some districts of France, where the game was particularly and as siduously secured by the proprietors, no fewer than five hundred hares have been killed within a small compass in a single day.

The hare, if taken young, may be tamed and domestciated. It has occasionally been suckled and nursed by a cat. The celebrated Sonnini, the traveller and natu ralist, had a hare in a complete state of domestication ; and Cowper, the poet, was in possession of three, whose com forts lie attended to with the most hu mane assiduity, and whose manners he bas described with much interest and dis crimination. The the of the hare is of eminent, and almost indispensable utility, in the hat manufactory, and innumerable skins are annually brought to this country for that purpose from the north of Eu rope.

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