Behaviour of does and leverets of the European hare (Lepus europaem) whilst nursing

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Abstract

After birth in one particular place, the leverets of a litter dispersed after a few days. In the evening, the leverets were observed gathering at, or near, their birth place to await nursing. There the doe would arrive later, about one hour after sunset, to nurse the young gathered there. Individual recognition between leverets and their doe seemed of no importance, and meeting was dependent on time and place. The young were nursed for only a few minutes and their urine, excreted during nursing, was licked up by the doe, which finished nursing by jumping away from the young. The leverets dispersed again and kept apart from each other until they gathered again the next evening. Usually leverets are nursed for four weeks, but longer nursing periods were found in the last litters of the breeding season. The nursing behaviour is probably adapted to prevent discovery of leverets by predators.

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