By Anna Edwards
This female hare puts a whole new spin on the idea of playing hard to get.
The feisty animal delivers a knock-out blow to any males who come too close for her liking in this hare-raising mating ritual.
The term 'sucker punched with love' takes on a whole new meaning when you're a hare looking for a partner.
Come here, you! The male looks determined to catch the female as he pursues her through the fields of south-east England
Squaring up: The pair face each other as they spring up and down, ready to battle during the bizarre courtship ritual
Take that! The female hare also proves to be handy with her fist - using her front paws to 'box' any unfortunate male that comes too close
Battle for her heart: The hares leap at each other, using their paws to attack one another in a fight over who gets to make with the jill (female hare)
Any male hare (known as jacks) who wishes to mate must first endure several hours of tests by the jills (female hares).
These see the female lead her admirers on a merry chase as well as leaping athletically over them in order to put some room between herself and any amorous male.
During the mating process her would-be mates dash around her and square up to their rivals for her affection and 'box' with each other - and her.
But these photos show how the female hare proves to be handy with her fist - using her front paws to 'box' any unfortunate male that comes too close.
This scrapping is necessary as tries to defend herself by boxing with the male who can be quite aggressive.
Paws at dawn: With their eyes screwed shut, the hares jump around, ready to take aim at their rivals. The male hares will breed with several females
And the chase is on! The female lead her admirers on a merry dance as well as leaping athletically over them in order to put some room between herself and any amorous male
Feisty female: Using their claws and prepared to scratch and box, the mating ritual for the hare is not for the faint-hearted
The jacks do most of the boxing, either with each other in a struggle for social dominance, or with jills as a prelude to mating.
It is only the most determined males who last the course and ultimately win rights to mate with the female.
The males will mate with several females during the course of the mating season.
Spring is the main mating season and this is where the term 'mad March hares' originated, as many amorous hares can be seen leaping through the fields.
After a gestation period of 42 - 44 days, two or three leverets (young hares) are born in a grass-lined nest within a form.
Young rabbits are born blind, naked and helpless, but baby hares are born fully furred and with their eyes open.
After birth, the mother carefully places each leveret in its own form, usually in long grass, and visits them once a night to suckle them.
While she is away, the leverets avoid detection by predators, such as foxes and owls, by laying very still and staying quiet.
When their mother, who can produce between three and four litters a year, approaches she gives them a low call and they respond with answering calls to help her locate her babies.
The young are independent when about three weeks old but take eight months before they fully reach their adult weight.
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Stop giving me the runaround! Incredible pictures capture the moment a male hare gives chase to its chosen mate
By Anna Edwards