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The myth of the mad March hare


From literature1, proverb2 and scientific publications3–6, two aspects of the behaviour of the brown hare, Lepus capensis, are well known. First, they ‘go mad’ in March. Second, boxing is their most spectacular form of male–male competition for mates. Here we show that ‘madness’ is no more a feature of March than of the other months of their long breeding season, and that boxing does not represent intrasexual competition but an interaction between the sexes whereby a female attempts to prevent a male from mating. Finally, we discuss why misleading statements about hare behaviour have remained unchallenged for centuries.

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Holley, A., Greenwood, P. The myth of the mad March hare. Nature 309, 549–550 (1984).

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