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Date Posted: 21:24:29 01/08/06 Sun
Subject: Orphaned Hares
They're not as commonly seen as rabbits, but brown hares were also introduced to Australia and are quietly thriving in drier, wilder habitats than European rabbits. Last year I found a week old hare being attacked by meat ants. After rescuing him, I was faced with the task of raising him myself, as I certainly wasn't going to leave him to the ants. In the process of raising this hare, I encountered an awful lot of misinformation about raising hares, and I thought I should put the facts straight just in case anyone else ever has the same problem.
First and foremost, hares do not dig burrows. They leave their babies in shallow scrapes called forms. They split the litter up and the mother visits them just a couple of times a day. If you see a baby hare, chances are it's not orphaned and the mother will return. Only pick it up if it's in danger or showing signs of distress. Incidentally, hares can be told apart from rabbits as they have larger ears, longer legs, a more variable coloured coat and black and white markings on the backs of the ears.
A hare can be raised on your typical commercial milk formula for animals. The higher in protein the better. Divetelact is usually readily available at vets and some pet shops and works fine. They should be given as much as they will take 4-6 times a day. To begin with, my hare was waking me up halfway through the night. He'd settle down after a midnight feed, but I didn't feed him during the night as a general rule. Hares wean at around 6 weeks old. You can help them along by reducing the feeds and giving them plenty of grass. I found my hare wasn't very interested in commercial rabbit food or hay to begin with. He insisted on eating fresh grass.
Baby hares will go to the toilet on their own, unlike baby rabbits, which need to be stimulated before they will express.
Hares are flighty, but all babies benefit from closeness and affection. My hare enjoyed sitting in my arms for lengthy snuggles when he was a baby.
The best thing to do is trust the hare. They know what they need to survive. They won't overeat, but you may need to force them to sit still to feed. Hares are born with fur and eyes open, so they're a little more independent than baby rabbits.
If anyone ever has any questions or problems about hares, you can contact me anytime.
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