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Place of Origin:Sandleford Warren
Death: Old age
Appears in: Watership Down (book)
Film appearances
Appears in: Watership Down

Hazel (or by his followers, Hazel-rah) is a brave and true buck, the central character in Richard Adams's fantasy novel Watership Down. He was born in the Sandleford Warren, but at the advice from his brother, Fiver, that it would be destroyed and the fact that he was not being well treated, left his birth place. Ultimately destined to be Chief Rabbit of the Watership Down Warren, he leads several rabbits out of Sandleford including Bigwig and Pipkin. Trusting in Fiver, Hazel leads the rabbits on many adventures before eventually finding Watership Down. On the way, he earns their trust and loyalty with his quick decisions and understanding nature. With his ability to cultivate the best in everyone around him, the rabbits suceed with his leadership as he makes the most of each of their abilities.

Hazel also appears in Adams's later book, Tales from Watership Down. In th
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is book he appoints Hyzenthlay as his co-chief rabbit, getting an idea from a very strong willed doe that stayed at Watership Down for a time. As before, his understanding and logical nature takes over in how he runs the warren and the respect for him is obvious and secure.


Logical and brave, he earns the respect and leadership of his comrades once they reach their new home. His leadership rested in his courage, his ability to utilize the abilities of others for the common good, and his ability to encourage the best in others. As one of his shining moments, when General Woundwort came to attack The Watership Down, Hazel set out alone to negotiate peace with Woundwort and his top Owsla to attempt to solve their conflict logically. However, his ego sometimes cooks, up, too...


Hazel grew up in the Sandleford Warren with his little brother Fiver. One day Fiver has a vision that the warren is going to be destroyed by man. Hazel has already contemplated leaving the warren due to its lack
Hazel and his brother
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of does and harassment from the Sandleford Owsla, so he decides to get permission from the leader of Sandleford - the Threarah - to leave. The Threarah hates the idea due to the fact that it is very close to mating season and so forbids them from leaving.

Hazel then gathers some rabbits to join their Hlessil to leave the Warren. The Hlessil consists of Pipkin, Bigwig , Hawkbit, Dandelion, Blackberry, Silver, Acorn, Buckthorn and Speedwell. The Hlessil decide to leave the Warren during the night but as they are leaving The Sandleford Owsla led by Captain Holly, pursues them. Holly attacks Hazel but Bigwig intervenes before Hazel is seriously injured. Holly, scared of being killed by Bigwig flees, allowing the Hlessil to leave.

Hazel leads the rabbits through a forest, narrowly escaping a lendri until they come across a large stream, which they have to cross in order to reach the place Fiver invisioned. However there iss a dog loose in the woods and Fiver and Pipkin were exhausted from all the traveling, so they are unable to swim.

Blackberry constructs a plan to have Fiver and Pipkin float across the water on a piece of wood. The idea is a success despite the fact that only Blackberry, Hazel and Fiver understand it initially
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On the other side of the stream Silver comes across a bean-field. It is covered up and secluded by small bean trees which allow the group to rest safely under. After a long rest, Pipkin and Fiver are attacked by a crows which prompts the group to leave. They then come across a road with hrududus (cars). This is a new thing to all of the rabbits, minus Bigwig, who commonly crossed roads when part of the Sandleford Owsla. After crossing the road they find a copse, where they decide to rest again. Speedwell, Acorn, and Hawkbit begin to question Hazel's authority due to the fact that at that point it is not clear as to whether it is Hazel or in fact Bigwig who will be their chief rabbit.

The next morning, a strange rabbit appears in the field, watching them. This rabbit introduces himself as Cowslip. He informs Hazel that he has a warren close by with many empty burrows. Hazel asked the Hlessil if they would like to visit Cowslip's Warren, to which they agree.

In Cowslip's Warren they meet Strawberry and his mate, Nildro-hain, whom they get to know very well. In the "Great Burrow" (name given to a large burrow in the warren) they listen to the poet Silverweed's famous poem. This poem frightens Fiver, despite the fact that Silverweed is the only rabbit in the warren that he can connect with. The ne
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xt few nights, Fiver sleeps outside, so Hazel and Bigwig decide to talk with him. Bigwig announces that he is finished with Fiver and runs back to "make sure that everyone else is."

When Bigwig runs back he was caught in a snare. Hazel sends Fiver to go back and get the rest of their group and Cowslip. Fiver returns with the rest of the Hlessil but says that Cowslip told him to stop talking about it and struck him in the ear. Fiver and Pipkin dig out the snare's peg and then spot Strawberry walking towards them. He tells them that Nildro-hain was killed by a snare and that he is sick of pretending that nothing is happening. Hazel welcomes him into their Hlessil and they depart for the hills of Fiver's dreams.

When they get to Watership Down, they find a small hole in the ground where they rest. Blackberry says that the hole is too cold and rough and that they would never last in the winter if they set up a permanent home in the hole, regardless they stay for a while. That night they hear moaning and wailing and someone screaming out "THLAYLI! ZORN!".

Thlayli is Bigwig's lapine name, so he thinks that this is the Black Rabbit of Inle, calling him to die. He leaves the hole but to his surprise, it is Captain Holly of the Sandleford Owsla with another Sandleford rabbit, Bluebell.
Hazel in the TV series
Hazel in the TV series

Hazel learns from Holly and Bluebell that The Sandleford Warren was destroyed by humans and that the only rabbits who survived it's destruction were Holly, Bluebell, Pimpernel, and Toadflax. Toadflax died of exhaustion soon after their departure from the destroyed warren. Later Holly, Bluebell, and Pimpernel reached the Warren of Snares where Cowslip and his rabbits surrounded them. After Holly asked them if they had seen anyone named Hazel or Bigwig, the rabbits attacked them, killing Pimpernel. Holly cornered Cowslip, then threatened to kill him if he didn't tell him where Hazel and Bigwig were. Cowslip told him that they were on the Downs, and that's where they found each other. This news upset the Watership Down rabbits deeply.

Later, Strawberry uses his Snare-Rabbit building techniques to build a large burrow under a beach tree, so the burrow could be held up by its roots. They built tunnels and smaller burrows all around the main burrow, whch they decided to call The Honeycomb. Once the Watership Down Warren was built Hazel realises the ongoing problem of the lack of does and therefore lack of kittens. Without either of these it would be impossible for the warren to survive once it's original inhabitants died out.

One morning Silver and Bigwig sense elil. They find an injured seagull named Kehaar, who Hazel decides to help because he knows that a bird would make a great ally. After a few days, Kehaar is back to health and goes on a search for other warrens where they could find some does. He later returns and tells them of a warren named Efrafa and a nearby farm called Nuthanger Farm where there are some hutch rabbits. He also warns them of the farm cat Tab, who injured him.

Hazel sends out an expedition party to investigate Efrafa, whilst he arranges a raid on the farm to free the hutch rabbits. When they arrive they find four hutch rabbits; Clover, Boxwood, Haystack, and Laurel. Clover likes the idea of escaping to the free lands but they are all very nervous about living in the wild with strange rabbits. Hazel and his group manage to free 3 of the hutch rabbits but the farmer discovers them and Hazel is badly injured and believed to be shot dead in the escape. Fiver knows that Hazel is still alive, however and manages to save him.

When the exbidition group return from Efrafa they tell tales of the horrific leader, General Woundwort and his militaristic ways as well as the overcrowding of the warren. Despite these factors, Hazel decides that they will perform a raid on Efrafa and free some does to take back to their warren. He and Blackberry create a plan, leading a group of rabbits to a small hiding place near Efrafa and having Bigwig infiltrate the warren as a solitary rabbit.

Hazel's Old Age
Hazel at an old age.
He manages to recruit a small group of does including Hyzenthlay and a tortured male rabbit named Blackavar and they escape on a boat with Hazel and the rest of the rabbits at the very last minute. Unfortunately on their way back to Watership Down they are spotted by Captain Campion who tracks their journey and informs Woundwort, who sends a large group of rabbits to Watership Down. Hazel is informed of their approach by a small field mouse that he saved earlier in the story and begins to form plans to defend his warren and hide his friends.

It suddenly occurs to him a way in which he can save them all and sets off to Nuthanger Farm with Blackberry and Dandelion, leaving Bigwig to guard the warren. He manages to free the dog from the farm house and it gives chase to Dandelion and Blackberry back to the Down. However, Hazel is unable to run away due to his previous injuries and the farm cat pounces on him (in that part, Hazel was luckily-animated with Bigwig's claws). Luckily, Lucy, a human, finds Tab  the cat and tells him to leave. Lucy wants to keep Hazel but her father and doctor both tell her that she cannot so she sets him free under the doctor's advice and Hazel returns to the warren.

He finds out that the General has been defeated by Bigwig and the dog and is happy as all of the rabbits celebrate. Some rabbits from Efrafa are able to join the Watership Down Warren as Campion has become the Chief Rabbit of Efrafa.

After many years, at the end of the Novel, Hazel becomes withered and tired. He has created a plentiful warren with many rabbits that will reprouduce for the years to come.

One day in March, supposedly many springs later, the legendary El-arairah finds Hazel and asks if he will join his Owlsa. Hazel agrees and begins his journey with El-ahrairah forever....
Hazel's Death
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