Snowshoe Hare

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Snowshoe Hare
Conservation status: Secure
Missing image
Snowshoe_Hare.jpg
Snowshoe Hare


Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Mammalia
Order:Lagomorpha
Family:Leporidae
Genus:Lepus
Species:L. americanus
Binomial name
Lepus americanus
Erxleben, 1777

The Snowshoe Hare (Lepus americanus), so named because of the large size of its hind feet which prevents it from sinking into the snow, is a common type of hare in North America. It is the dominant herbivore in the boreal forest and tundra ecosystems of northern North America.

This animal is found across most of Canada, Alaska and the northern United States. They do best in areas with dense vegetation and heavy winter snowfalls.

For camouflage, its fur turns white during the winter and rusty brown above during the summer. Its underparts are white year-round. The Snowshoe Hare is also distinguishable by the black tufts of fur on the edge of its ears. Their ears are shorter than those of most other hares.

At high latitudes, the Snowshoe Hare's population oscillates with a period of about 11 years; its peak population can be as much as 40 times greater than its minimum population. Explaining this phenomenon in terms of the hare's relation to its food supply and predators has been a common object of study in ecology. The Canada Lynx population is known to rise and fall with hare numbers. Disease and competition for food are important factors in controlling the Snowshoe Hare population.

In summer, they feed on green vegetation such as grasses, ferns and leaves; in winter, they eat twigs, barks and buds. They are sometimes seen feeding in small groups. These animals are mainly active at night and do not hibernate. They maintain a network of trails through their territories to help them reach feeding areas and escape from predators. Besides the Lynx, predators include owls, especially the Great Horned Owl, Great Grey Owl and Barred Owl, Bobcats, mustelids and Wolves.

Snowshoe Hares may have up to 4 litters in a year which average 2 to 4 young. Males compete for females and females may breed with several males.de:Schneeschuhhase

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