Snowshoe Hare - Lepus americanus
The snowshoe hare is 16-20 inches in length. Males are usually smaller than females. It has long hind feet with fur on the soles! Its long hind legs help it keep its balance when it is standing up to eat plants. The fur on its soles keep its feet warm in the winter and help give the hare traction on the ice and snow. It has long ears and excellent hearing. In the summer, the snowshoe hare is grayish brown with a white belly. In the winter it is completely white except for black eyelids and black tips on its ears.
The snowshoe hare is found throughout Canada and the northern United States south to northern California, northern New Mexico, northern Minnesota, northern Michigan, and northern New Jersey.
The snowshoe hare eats a variety of plants and plant matter. In the summer, it eats grasses, clover, dandelions, willow, and berries. In the winter, it eats tree buds, twigs, bark, and even carrion.
Snowshoe hares mate from March through August. The female gives birth a little over a month after mating. She two to eight babies in a nest of matted down grasses. The babies are fur-covered at birth and their eyes are open. They can run shortly after they are born. The female cares for the young until they are fully weaned at four week old. Females may have as many as four litters a year.
The snowshoe hare is solitary, although it may share its home range with other hares. It is most active at dawn and dusk and on cloudy days. During the day, it spends most of its time grooming and napping. Snowshoe hares are very good swimmers and can run at speeds of up to 27 miles per hour and leap distances of up to 12 feet! When it is being chased be a predator, it runs in a zig-zag patterns that makes it difficult to catch.