Field Guide/Mammals/Snowshoe Hare
|Lepus americanus (Snowshoe Hare)|
Size: Total length: 20 in. (508 mm.). Tail Length: 2 in. (50.8 mm.). Weight: 3 lbs. (1.36 kg).
Description: The Snowshoe Hare is a medium-sized rabbit. It has a brown coat in the summer, and a white coat during the winter. The soles of its hind legs are densely furred and large, forming the characteristic snowshoe.
Similar Species: The Snowshoe Hare is similar to but slightly taller than the Eastern Cottontail Rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus).
Range: Northern species found as far north as Alaska and over most of Canada.
Diet: Grass, clover, and ferns in the summer. Bark and twigs in the winter. Also eat their own feces.
Activity: Nocturnal. Most active during dawn and dusk during periods of low light. Sleep and groom throughout the day.
Reproduction: Mates in February through July. Gestation period of 36 days. Typical litter size of 4 (3-4 litters per year). Weaned at 14-28 days. Polygynandrous (males and females both have multiple mates).
Lifespan: 5 years in the wild. Up to 85% do not live longer than 1 year.
Notes: Much of the Snowshoe Hare’s digestion occurs in the hindgut. Therefore, to extract all of the available nutrients they will often eat their own feces to cycle their food through a second time. The Snowshoe Hare can run up to 27 MPH and leap 10 ft. in a single bound.
Common predators include Coyotes (Canis latrans) Lynxes (Lynx lynx), Snowy Owls (Bubo scandiacus), and Red-Tailed Hawks (Butao jamaicensis).Snowshow Hare’s are accomplished swimmers and often swim to escape prey (2). Snowshoe Hares have very dramatic population fluctuations over 10-year cycles thought to be accredited to over-grazing. Females are typically larger than males.
- Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (2012), Lepus americanus
- Shefferly, N. (2007), Lepus americanus
- Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (2012), Lepus americanus
- Ruland, C. (2012), Lepus americanus