Lepus hainanusHainan hare

Geographic Range

Hainan hares (Lepus hainanus) are found only on the western side of China's Hainan Dao island. (Lazell, et al., 2012)


The natural habitat of Hainan hares is the grasslands and shrub-forests of Hainan, China. Historically, the hares inhabited most lowland areas of the island. In 1995, due to the loss of natural habitat, Hainan hares were found only near the ranger stations of two deer ranches. A 1999 survey found that the species was also present in Tongtieling Forest Area. (Lazell, et al., 2012)

  • Range elevation
    0 to 300 m
    0.00 to 984.25 ft

Physical Description

Dorsally, the hares have a a pale brown soft coat with tinges of black and chestnut. They have white circles around the eyes extending forward toward the muzzle and back toward the ear. On the ventral side, the coat is white. The feet are light brown with white markings and the tail is brownish-black on top with stripes oriented transversely, but pale to white on the bottom. Seasonal variation has been observed in the summer coat being less vibrant than the winter coat. This species of hare has short ears, which tend to be less than 95 mm in length. The skull is rounded with small auditory bullae, a broad, short rostrum, an upwardly directed suborbital process, and upper incisors forming a Y-shaped groove that is often filled with cementum. (Longmans, et al., 1870; Smith and Xie, 2008)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range mass
    1,250 to 1,750 g
    to oz
  • Average length
    35.6 cm
    14.02 in


The mating system of Hainan hares has not been reported. However, like many other common hares and jackrabbits, they are believed polygynandrous. (Falcón, et al., 2011)

Little is known about the reproductive behavior of Hainan hares. However, other common hares and jackrabbits that live near the equator breed throughout the year and have approximately 8 litters containing 1 to 2 young. Their closest relatives, Burmese hares, have a gestation period of 35 to 40 days. (Duckworth, et al., 2008; Myers and MacInnes, 1981)

Though the parental investment of Hainan hares has not been investigated, most hares, pikas, and rabbits have limited parental investment compared to other mammals. Mothers typically visit their young to allow them to nurse once a day. Weaning typically occurs at 1 or 2 months of age and sexual maturity shortly following at roughly 4 to 6 months of age. Males are not involved in caring for the young. ("Rabbits Pikas and Hares: Lagomorpha - Behavior And Reproduction Read more: Rabbits Pikas and Hares: Lagomorpha - Behavior And Reproduction", 2012)

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


The life span of this species has not been reported, but its closest relative, Burmese hares, have an estimated lifespan of 6 years. (Duckworth, et al., 2008)


A shy and primarily solitary creature, Hainan hares are nocturnal with a majority of activity occurring before midnight. Hare activity has on occasion been observed during the day. Members of this species don't burrow. (Lazell, et al., 2012)

  • Range territory size
    2 (high) km^2

Home Range

Hainan hares appear to be relatively sedentary. A territory size of less than 2 sq km was recorded for individuals living near two deer ranch ranger stations.

Communication and Perception

There is little information on communication and perception of Hainan hares. The species has external physical features associated with sight, touch, taste, and hearing. Other hares, pikas, and rabbits use pheromones and scent marks for perception. (Smith and Xie, 2008)

Food Habits

The diet of Hainan hares has not been described. However, they are presumed to be herbivores, in keeping with other hares, pikas, and rabbits. (Lazell, et al., 2012)


In their natural range these hares face little predation pressure, most likely due to low predator abundance in the region. (Lazell, et al., 2012)

Ecosystem Roles

The role of Hainan hares in the ecosystem has not been described. In the past, it may have been a significant prey species, as is the case for most common hares and jackrabbits. However, this is unlikely the case today, as populations have declined. (Lazell, et al., 2012)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Hainan hares have historically been, and to a lesser extent still are, hunted for meat and skin. (Lazell, et al., 2012)

  • Positive Impacts
  • food
  • body parts are source of valuable material

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Hainan hares are of little significance economically. (Lazell, et al., 2012)

Conservation Status

Due to expansion of land use for agriculture and harvesting, this hare has lost what is estimated to be upwards of 90% of its natural habitat, with less than 2 sq km left of optimal habitat. It is also under pressure from poaching for pelts and meat, and competition may exist with feral European hares, pikas, and rabbits. The Hainan hare is a China Key List - II protected species, but as of 1995 there were no laws regarding the conservation of this species. The species was Red Listed in 2008. The estimated population size is 250 to 500 individuals. (Lazell, et al., 2012)

Other Comments

The species was first reported by Robert Swinhoe in 1870, but until recently was considered a subspecies of Burmese hares. (Lazell, et al., 2012)


Annette Lundberg (author), Michigan State University, Barbara Lundrigan (editor), Michigan State University, Laura Podzikowski (editor), Special Projects.



uses sound to communicate


living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.

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.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


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.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females


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.

island endemic

animals that live only on an island or set of islands.


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.

native range

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


active during the night


found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map


the kind of polygamy in which a female pairs with several males, each of which also pairs with several different females.


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


uses touch to communicate


Living on the ground.


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

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


Net Industries and its Licensors. 2012. "Rabbits Pikas and Hares: Lagomorpha - Behavior And Reproduction Read more: Rabbits Pikas and Hares: Lagomorpha - Behavior And Reproduction" (On-line). Accessed April 20, 2012 at http://animals.jrank.org/pages/3504/Pikas-Rabbits-Hares-Lagomorpha-BEHAVIOR-REPRODUCTION.html.

Duckworth, J., R. Steinmetz, A. Pattanavibool. 2008. "The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species" (On-line). Lepus peguensis. Accessed April 20, 2012 at http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/41284/0.

Falcón, W., C. Goldberg, L. Waits, W. Estes-Zumpf, J. Rachlow. 2011. First Record of Multiple Paternity in the Pygmy Rabbit (Brachylagus idahoensis): Evidence from Analysis of 16 Microsatellite Loci. Western North American Naturalist, 71(2): 271-275. Accessed April 20, 2012 at http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.3398/064.071.0214.

Fellowes, J., B. Chan, N. Sai-Chi, M. Lau, . Siu. 2002. Report of Rapid Biodiversity Assessments at Tongtieling Forest Area and Xinglong Tropical Botanic Garden, Southeast Hainan, China, 22-23 May 1999. South China Forest Biodiversity Survey Report Series: No. 22, No. 22: 1-18. Accessed March 19, 2012 at http://www.kfbg.org.hk/content/53/18/2/E22_Tongtieling_Xinglung_report_w.pdf.

Lazell, J., W. Lu, W. Xia, S. Li, A. Smith. 2012. "The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species" (On-line). Lepus hainanus. Accessed March 19, 2012 at http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/11793/0.

Longmans, , Green, Reader, Dyer. 1870. Proceeding of the Scientific Meetings of the Zoological Society of London for the Year 1870. Red Lion Court, Fleet Street: Taylor and Francis. Accessed April 20, 2012 at http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/90543#page/8/mode/1up.

Myers, K., C. MacInnes. 1981. Proceedings of the World Lagomorph Conference. Guelph, Ontario, Canada: International Union foe Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

Smith, A., Y. Xie. 2008. A Guide to the Mammals of China. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.