Hares and Pikas
Measurement: Size: 46-48 cm Weight: 1.5 kg
Description: The snowshoe hare is an example of animal meeting winter and thriving. Over time, they have developed exceedingly large feet to enable them to move effortlessly atop the deep winter snows of the Canadian north. They have brown coats which change to white during winter. The colour change is due to a replacement of the guard hairs with those of the new colour.
The snowshoe hare is so well adapted to winter landscapes that they are found across Canada, with only isolated populations straying south into the United States. It is common within both the Canadian and American Rockies, using the deep snow cover to enable it to move faster than other rabbits and evade the many predators that look to it for their diet. It is found throughout both the Canadian and American Rockies. In the vast majority of the Canadian Rockies, it is the only rabbit you will see. As you approach the International border, you begin to see the western cottontail mixing with snowshoe hare populations.
Snowshoe hares are browsers, feeding upon small plants, flowers including vetch, raspberry, strawberry, and fireweed, grasses, and clovers, In the winter, they switch to browsing on buds, bark and twigs.
The reproductive reputations of rabbits are not exaggerated. Snowshoe hares may have four litters per year, with an annual production between 8 and 18 young. The high rates are matched by equally high rates of mortality, particularly from lynx who depend upon snowshoe hares as their primary prey source. Gestation is 35 days, and the female may mate within a few hours of giving birth.
The population varies greatly over time following a cycle varying between 8 and 11 years. As the population crashes, so do the populations of lynx which rely upon snowshoe hares.
Snowshoe Hare sightings
a guide to help you spot some
All Material © Ward Cameron 2005