Tawny gray, shaded with brown: ears longer than the head; black at the tips: tail black above, white beneath.
L. timidus, Desm. Mammal, p. 347. Mem. Brit. An. p. 21. Hare, Penn. Brit. Zool. vol. i. p. 98. Shaw, Gen. Zool. vol. II. p. 197. pi. 162.
Length of the head and body twenty-one inches nine lines; of the head four inches; of the ears four inches ten lines; of the tail three inches six lines.
Head thick and large: inside of the cheeks hairy; eyes placed laterally, large and prominent; ears longer than the head: limbs slender, much longer behind than before : soles of the feet hairy. Fur composed of a fine down with longer hairs intermixed, of a tawny gray or rusty brown colour, the red tint prevailing in certain parts more than in others; each individual hair gray at the roots, black in the middle, and tawny at the tip; abdomen, inside of the thighs, and a transverse patch beneath the lower jaw, white; ears externally cinereous towards the base of the outer margin, above that colour a black spot reaching to the extremity of the auricle: tail black above, white underneath.
Var.β . Irish Hare. Yarr. in Proceed, of Zool. Soc. (1833) p. 88. Head shorter and more rounded than in the Common Hare; ears shorter, not equalling the head in length; limbs less lengthened; fur composed of only one sort of hair, the long dark hairs, observable in the English Hare, being wanting.
Frequents chiefly open fields. Feeds entirely on vegetables, coming abroad in the evening for that purpose. Breeds frequently in the year. Goes with young thirty days, and produces from one to four, rarely five, at a time. Young born with their eyes open, and the body clothed with fur. When full grown, has been known to weigh thirteen pounds one ounce and a half.
Var. β, which is the only Hare found in Ireland, might almost deserve to be considered as a distinct species. From the shortness and inferior quality of the hair, its fur is useless in trade.