Lepus castroviejoibroom hare

Geographic Range

Lepus castroviejoi is an endemic species inhabiting a restricted range in northern Spain. They are found in the Cantabrian Mountains between Sierra de Ancares and Sierra de Pena Labra. The range is approximately 25 to 40 km by 230 km in size. Although the range is restricted, distribution is even and these hares are common throughout their range. (Wilson, 1993)


Broom hares inhabit elevations from 1,300 m to 1,900 m in the Cantabarian Mountains. They have been know to descend to lower elevations of about 1,000 m in winter to avoid snow. Much of the native habitat is heathland, mostly consisting of shrubs in the genera Erica, Calluna, and Vaccinium. There is also a fair amount of brush cover which consists of Cytisus, Genista, and Juniperus. Broom hares may spend additional time in mixed deciduous forest of oak and beech. Broom hares prefer to spend most of their time feeding at night in recently burned clearings. During the day, broom hares spend more time in dense vegetation. (Ballesteros, et al., 1996; Lagomorph Specialist Group, 1996)

  • Range elevation
    1000 to 1900 m
    3280.84 to 6233.60 ft
  • Average elevation
    1600 m
    5249.34 ft

Physical Description

The average weight of a broom hare is 2905 g for adults. Broom hares are intermediate in size when compared to other hares occurring in Spain (Lepus europaeus and Lepus granatensis). The tail and ears are smaller than in both of these other species. Some skull characteristics are unique. One of these characters is a sutura nasofrontalis shaped in a typical open V. Broom hare coloration is similar to the other hares occurring in northern Spain, except that the pelage is usually more brownish-yellow. (Palacios, 1976)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Average mass
    2.905 kg
    6.40 lb


There was no information on mating systems available for broom hares. Reproduction may be similiar to their close relative Lepus europaeus.

There is no information on reproduction available for Lepus castroviejoi. Reproduction may be similiar to its close relative, Lepus europaeus. The reproductive potential of broom hares is likely to be high because leporids are capable of having multiple litters during a breeding season. (Geldhamer, et al., 2004)

  • Breeding interval
    Breeding intervals for broom hares are unknown.
  • Breeding season
    Broom hares probably breed during the warm season, although year round breeding is possible.

There is little information available on parental investment in broom hares. Like most other rabbits, broom hare females probably care for and nurse their young for a brief period before they become independent. (Geldhamer, et al., 2004)

  • Parental Investment
  • precocial
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female


The lifespan of broom hares is unknown. Lifespan may be similiar to that of Lepus europaeus.


Broom hares are active at night and are rarely seen during the day. They move by saltatorial locomotion. (Ballesteros, et al., 1996; Geldhamer, et al., 2004)

Home Range

Broom hare home range size is unkown. It may be similar to that of Lepus europaeus. (Lagomorph Specialist Group, 1996)

Communication and Perception

There is no specific information on broom hare communication. Like other hares, broom hares have exceptionally well-developed hearing. They also use vision and chemical communication to assess reproductive status of conspecifics.

Food Habits

Broom hares are herbivorous, but little is known about their specific diet or food preferences. They do prefer to spend their time foraging in recently burned areas and small clearings. They are hindgut fermenters, and use coprophagy to aid in recovering important nutrients. (Ballesteros, et al., 1996; Geldhamer, et al., 2004; Lagomorph Specialist Group, 1996)

  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • wood, bark, or stems
  • Other Foods
  • dung


Broom hares, like other hares, are important prey for many carnivores. Broom hares are mainly preyed on by foxes (Vulpes vulpes), wild cats (Felis silvestris), wolves (Canis lupus), large owls (Strigiformes), and golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos). Humans also prey on broom hares. (Ballesteros, et al., 1996)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

Broom hares play a role in the ecosystem as a prey for many predators. They also impact vegetation communities through their browsing. (Ballesteros, et al., 1996)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Broom hares are sometimes used as food for humans. (Ballesteros, et al., 1996)

  • Positive Impacts
  • food

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of broom hares on humans. They have the potential to cause crop damage if populations are high. (Geldhamer, et al., 2004)

  • Negative Impacts
  • crop pest

Conservation Status

There are many different factors that affect broom hare populations, including overharvesting, illegal hunting, habitat changes, and disease. As tree plantations increase in their native range, and cultivated areas decrease, these hares lose habitat. Currently there are no cases of diseases affecting broom hares, but many diseases affect their close relatives throughout Europe and are continously spreading. Poisoning is another potential problem, pesticides and chemical fertilizers have been known to affect some populations of L. europaeus, and broom hares could be affected as well. (Ballesteros, et al., 1996)

To ensure the persistence of broom hares, some actions must be taken to limit the threats stated above. The effects of hunting, predation and habitat changes should be further studied to determine the best solution. Hunting regulations should be changed to help further protect the broom hare. Care must be taken if hares are relocated or moved to insure they do not bring diseases with them. Habitat can also be improved by changing land use to increase the frequency of burning. (Ballesteros, et al., 1996)

The primary threats to broom hares currently are considered their limited distribution and excessive hunting on the western part of their range. (Lagomorph Specialist Group, 1996)

Other Comments

Broom hares were described as a species in 1976, and are unique mammals found in a small range. They have two close relatives, Lepus europaeus and Lepus granatensis, that border their range. (Ballesteros, et al., 1996)


Tanya Dewey (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Austin Brose (author), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Chris Yahnke (editor, instructor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.



living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

World Map


uses sound to communicate

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


Found in coastal areas between 30 and 40 degrees latitude, in areas with a Mediterranean climate. Vegetation is dominated by stands of dense, spiny shrubs with tough (hard or waxy) evergreen leaves. May be maintained by periodic fire. In South America it includes the scrub ecotone between forest and paramo.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


an animal that mainly eats the dung of other animals


having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


an animal that mainly eats leaves.


A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


active during the night


specialized for leaping or bounding locomotion; jumps or hops.

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.


remains in the same area


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


lives alone


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


Living on the ground.

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.


A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.


uses sight to communicate


reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

young precocial

young are relatively well-developed when born


Ballesteros, F., J. Benito, P. Gonzalez-Quiros. 1996. Status, Management and Conservation of Broom Hare (Lepus castroviejoi) in the Cantabrian Mountains (Northwest of Spain). Proceedings of the International Union of Game Biologists XXII Congress "The Game and the Man", 1: 123-127.

Geldhamer, G., L. Drickamer, S. Vessey, J. Merritt. 2004. Mammalogy: Adaptation, Diversity, and Ecology. New York, New York, United States: McGraw-Hill.

Lagomorph Specialist Group, 1996. "IUCN red list of threatened species" (On-line). Accessed October 12, 2006 at http://www.iucnredlist.org/search/details.php/11797/all.

Palacios, F. 1989. Biometric and Morphologic Features of the Species of the Genus lepus in Spain. Mammalia, 53 (2): 227-264.

Palacios, F. 1976. Description of a New Species of Hare (Lepus castroviejoi) Endemic of the Cantabrian Mountains. Acta Vertebrata, 3 (2): 205-223.

Wilson, D. 1993. Mammal Species of the World. Washington, USA: Smithsonian Institute.