The Falkland Islands and South Atlantic

HARES AND RABBITS (introduced invasive species)

  • hare3

European or Brown Hare- Lepus europaeus

Length of head and body 63.5-68.5cm (25-27inches) Ears are 11.5-12.5cm (4.5-5 inches) and have black patches on the tips. Fur is grey-brown with dirty white underparts. The tail is dark on top and white underneath. Hares often stand on their hind legs to gaze around.
Introduced (unknown when) and breeding, hares are found in only on East Falkland mainland. They are locally fairly common on coastal heath and grassland. Hares are herbivorous and mainly eat grass and herbs, feeding mostly at night, they are shy and nocturnal. Their teeth grow continuously.
These are generally solitary animals apart from in the mating season. They don’t make burrows but lie in a ‘form’, a depression made in long grass. Females nest in the form and young are active at birth.
Hares are fast running animals adapted for this with wide nostrils and large hearts. They rely on their speed to escape predators.  Population status or the effect of hares on the biodiversity of the Falkland Islands is unknown.


  • European-rabbit


European Rabbit- Oryctolagus cuniculus

Small rabbit, (18 inches, 45.5cm) long, with short ears (no black tips). Grey/brown fur with pale flanks. Tail dark on top and white underneath. Rabbits dig networks of burrows. Young are born blind and furless, completely dependent on their mother in a fur-lined nest in the burrow.
These rabbits are found in a few areas of East Falklands, particularly around the north east –coast where they probably were introduced by the French colonists when they set up their settlement at Port Louis in 1764.  Governor Moody in 1842 reported that ‘rabbits evidently imported, are literally in myriads in the 'vallies', where fachine formed admiral cover for them, near the settlement. (Port Louis, East Falklands). He said that they were easily caught by dogs. Many skins were formerly exported and it appeared to have paid well. Byron introduced rabbits to Saunders Island, West Falklands in 1765 where they have flourished ever since.


Sources include: Falkland Islands State of the Environment Report 2008 Otley H, Munro G, Clausen A, Ingham B. A Field Guide to the Wildlife of The Falkland Islands and South Georgia - Ian J Strange, Wikipedia
Photographic credits: Header- Hare sitting E Falklands-Robert Maddocks, Rabbit by Ana Gram/