Burmese Hare (Lepus peguensis)

 

Description:

HB: 440-500;T: 65-80; HF:95-105;

The upper parts are grizzled, with the individual hairs white or greyish at the base,, followed by a dark brown band, ten tipped with fulvous. The under parts are pure white, except for the upper breast, which is light Rufus; the chin is white. There is a poorly defined wide light band from the nostril through the eye, continuing to the base of the ear in some individuals. The ears are brown with lighter tips. The back of the neck is Rufus, as are the front legs and feet. The hind legs are fulvous. The tail is white, with a thick dark brown band down the dorsal surface. In the skull, the palate is short, not extending beyond the premolars; the postorbital processes are broad and triangular, forming a nearly complete bony orbit. the nasal cavity is greatly enlarged; and the auditory bullae are small. The dental formula is 2/1 0/0 3/2 3/3x2 =28. The anterior surfaces of the first upper incisors are distinctly grooved; the grooves are enlarged and deepened, rectangular in shape, and their internal walls are fluted and channelled in  a direction parallel with the main groove; the entire groove may be filled with a soft cement in some individuals. The cheek teeth are high, crowned and rootless; in chewing, the lower jaws are moved from side to side( usually backwards and forwards in rodents). The upper tooth rows are farther apart than the lower tooth row, so that only one side occludes at a time.

 Range Description:

 This species occurs in central and Southern Myanmar from the Chindwin River valley east through Thailand, Cambodia, Southern Lao PDR, Southern Vietnam, and south into the upper Malay Peninsula (Myanmar, Thailand) (Hoffmann and Smith 2005). This distribution may include the northern and central regions of Lao PDR, as signs of its presence in the wild and fresh kills in markets have been identified, but only to the genus level (Duckworth et al. 1994; Duckworth 1996). Distribution is enigmatic in the north and east, with few confirmed records. Thai distribution would suggest that the species has spread with human-related forest loss in the northern highlands of Lao PDR, particularly one might surmise along the lowland valleys. The mapped range in Myanmar is largely speculative, further work is likely to show that the species is more restricted within this country. A collection expedition in Thailand (pre-1950's) recorded this species as occurring at 4,300 feet on Doi Ang Ka (modern name Doi Inthanon) (Allen and Coolidge 1940). Further work is needed to determine the upper limit of this species.
Countries: Native:
Cambodia; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Myanmar; Thailand; Vietnam

Population:

 This species is locally abundant.
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology:

This species occupies mostly in low altitude dipterocarp forest, and plain non-forest habitats with numbers especially high in the grass and shrub vegetation of seasonally exposed large river channels. It can be found in rain/flood-fed low intensity rice fields, but avoids irrigated multi-crop rice fields which cover much of Thailand (Duckworth pers. comm.). Species appears to be absent from Nakai plateau, Lao PDR, despite what appears to be suitable habitat (possibly due to high altitude) (Evans et al. 2000). Also absent from Thung Yai Wildlife Sanctuary in Thailand, again despite suitable habitat at a relatively high altitude (Steinmetz pers. comm.). For these reasons and the fact that there have been numerous field surveys for the species above 700 m without detecting the species (in Thailand and Lao PDR) the 1,200 m upper elevation limit may be too high, though a comprehensive examination of specimens is lacking (Duckworth, Steinmitz, Pattanavibool pers. comm.). There are insufficient data regarding the home range and population density of Lepus peguensis (Flux and Angermann 1990). Total length of this species ranges from 36.0-50.0 cm (Corbet and Hill 1992). L. peguensis may have several litters per year with litter size ranging from one to seven (three to four average) (Lekagul and McNeely 1977). Gestation lasts approximately 35-40 days (Lekagul and McNeely 1977). with an average litter of 3-4 young. It is estimated that the longevity of this species is six years (Lekagul and McNeely 1977). This species is crepuscular and nocturnal (Duckworth pers. comm.) L. peguensis actively feeds at night on grass, bark and twigs (Lekagul and McNeely 1977). Hares do not dig or occupy burrows, but spend the day hiding in a particular spot in bushes or tall grass that is known as a "form". The come out in the evening or at night to feed on grass, bark and twigs. Their main defence is their speed. The are usually solitary and territorial and in the breeding season they become very aggressive and you will often see males fighting with the fore feet and kicking with the hind leg which we call boxing.. When mating females can become seriously mauled by over energetic males. who bite and kick them. In Thailand they are found where the original forest has been cleared, especially in lalang grass or around hill tribe villages, thus indicating that human disturbance as occurred in the area.
Systems: Terrestrial


Major Threat(s):

Extension of irrigated rice fields destroys habitat in localized areas (Duckworth pers. comm.). The species is heavily hunted, but this does not seem to constitute a major threat (Duckworth, Steinmitz, Pattanavibool pers. comm.). Habitat in Lao PDR and Viet Nam is regularly burnt during the dry season (February-May), posing a threat to young that may be present (Duckworth pers. comm.)

Conservation Actions:

 Lepus peguensis is found within protected areas throughout its range. Research is needed in the following areas: taxonomy, distribution, and behaviour (Flux and Angermann 1990). The evident lack of hares within the mid-altitude ranges of central Indochina, despite suitable habitat, requires further investigation to determine potential taxonomic distinction between low and high altitude hare populations (Duckworth pers. comm.).

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