March is a new month, and I like to freshen up the old website on a monthly basis. While I don’t feel the need to reflect the month every time, on occasion it’s fun. What can you say about March? It’s usually a muddy mess here. This brings me to the hare.
March is the breeding month for old world hares. The season actually extends both directions past March, but that’s the popular belief and I’m going with it.
The old saying I remember is, “Mad as a March Hare.” Others have used, “Brainless as a March Hare.” So apparently old Bugs gets kind of offbeat during the mating season. They run around and chase each other, for the obvious reason. They stand up and box. They also sometimes randomly jump and do weird flips. In the rabbit circle, these jumps are called binkies.
But wait; rabbits and hares are actually different creatures. They’re related to each other, and look similar, but they’re different too. About the only fact is they’re both rodents, but so is a beaver and nobody gets him confused. As we’ve moved away from an agricultural way of life, they’re all just bunnies now. Bunny is a term of endearment, and not a proper name.
In general terms, rabbits are born blind and hairless. They live underground and are built more compactly to accomodate this lifestyle. A rabbit’s best defense is to hide from you. They like softer food like grasses and your vegetables. Rabbits make good pets.
Hares are longer and leaner. If you look at him, he’s built for speed. He generally has bigger feet and longer ears. Hares are born fully furred and can see from day one. They are capabable of moving about an hour after birth. Their fur is generally tipped in black. They nest above ground. If he see’s you, he’s going to run. While there is some crossover in foods, hares are more browsers than rabbits. Hares are more likely to go for bark, the tips of branches, or leafy shoots. Hares are the ones that kill your trees in tough winters. Hares do not make good pets. They aren’t named after the fact that they have hair from birth. My research says it’s actually a twisting of a German word meaning grey.
If you think about life above ground, running is a decent way of staying alive. When you have a handy burrow, or warren if you’re being proper, you don’t need to be as fast.
Now it gets
Jackrabbits are actually hares.
Cottontails, which nest above ground, are still in fact rabbits. Some cottontails have black tips to their fur – still rabbits.
The March Hare, from Alice in Wonderland, is usually illustrated with straw on his head. This is because that was a popular way of illustrating the mentally deficient way back when. I have no idea why this came to be. If you know, tell me in the comments.
If he turns white in the winter, he’s a hare. Not all hares turn white. The blacktailed jackrabbit, which is a hare, does not turn white in the winter. The whitetail jackrabbit, still a hare, does turn white. No rabbits turn white in the winter.
Out west, when something or someone runs, we call it jackrabbiting. But all jackrabbits, regardless of species are hares. Hares tend to run, get it?
Both rabbits and hares have a hare lip. Why make the hare the example? I have no idea.
Rabbit is so good to eat that it’s actually commercially raised for that purpose. You can choke down a hare if you’re in survival mode, but wouldn’t order it on purpose.
We use many terms dating back to the hare in our modern language. Most folks forget where they originate. I’ve aleady mentiontioned the hare lip, but in basketball we have March Madness. There are March Madness sales at stores too. The tortoise, which is not a turtle, did not race a rabbit he raced a hare, which may have been a jackrabbit, which is still actually a hare.
So for March, “We’re all mad here.”