Snowshoe Hare

Genus: Lepus
Species: americanus

Snowshoe Hare in the snow

Description:  Snowshoe hares make their home in dense coniferous forests. Within the United States, most of the coniferous forests are found on mountaintops, such as the Rockies, or near the Canadian border. Snowshoe hares can be seen foraging among the brush.

Snowshoe hares have an interesting adaptation that helps protect them against predators. Depending on the season, their fur can be a different color. During the winter, snowshoe hares are white, which helps them blend in with the snow. When the seasons change to spring and summer, snowshoe hares turn a reddish-brown. This color helps them camouflage with dirt and rocks.  

Not every part of the snowshoe hare changes color throughout the year. An important identification trick is to look at a snowshoe hare's ears. The tips of the ears are always black no matter the season.

When you see a snowshoe hare, also take note of the hind legs. The back legs of a snowshoe hare are noticeably larger, have more fur and larger toes than those of other rabbits or hares. These adaptations provide additional surface area and support for walking on snow. The hind legs are what give the hare its interesting common name: “snowshoe” hare. 

Snowshoe hares are nocturnal, so look for them at dawn and dusk.

Habitat and Range:  Snowshoe hares live in the coniferous and boreal forests of the Rocky Mountains, the Appalachian Mountains, the Pacific Northwest, New England, Alaska, Minnesota, Michigan, and Montana.

  • Fun Fact
    Hares and rabbits are related, but there are some key differences. Hares tend to be larger than rabbits and have longer legs and bigger ears. When threatened, rabbits typically freeze and rely on camouflage, as compared to, hares that use their big feet to flee at the first sign of danger. Rabbits are born blind and helpless, while hares are born fully furred and ready to run.

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