Species of the week: The Snowshoe Hare

This week’s #SpeciesOfTheWeek is the Snowshoe Hare (Lepus americanus)! Named for their large, snowshoe-esque paws, Snowshoe Hares are well-adapted to walking on snow during winter. Their fur also changes colour in winter to blend in better with the snow – but the tips of their ears are always black, a helpful identification tip. It takes them about 10 weeks to fully change colour, so we could be seeing cute mid-change hares like the one in the second image very soon! You might wonder why they’re called hares and not rabbits – hares are much bigger than rabbits, and flee when threatened, while rabbits will often just freeze. Snowshoe Hares are omnivores, consuming mostly plants in the summer months and twigs, branches and bark in the winter, occasionally switching it up with a small mammal (like a vole or a mouse). They breed multiple times a year, and females can have up to 3 litters per summer, each of which can include up to 13 babies! Unlike rabbits, which are helpless at birth, hares are born with their eyes open, fully furred and ready to run. They can live up to 6 years, but due to predation and disease, few live more than 2-4 years. Snowshoe Hares can be found almost everywhere in Canada, and at Murphys Point, we often see them near the Lally Homestead and along the Silver Queen Mine Trail. 

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