Wild Profile: meet the snowshoe hare

Updated: January 16, 2019

By Jim Cumming/Shutterstock

You might not see or hear any snowshoe hares, but in the winter, you’ll likely spot evidence that they’re around: tracks left by those 11-to-15 cm long hind feet as they zip silently across the snow.

Hares are the super heroes of the mammal world. They can’t leap tall buildings, but snowshoes can jump five times their own body length in a single bound—plus run up to nearly 50 km/h, seemingly floating over soft, deep snow. Unlike a jackrabbit’s, the toes of a hare’s furry hind foot can spread wide, creating a snowshoe effect for winter travel.

Snowshoe hares—also called varying hares for obvious reasons—keep their white coats until about March or April, when they moult and grow a new grey-brown one for the spring and summer. It takes about 10 weeks to complete the colour change. They’ll start to moult again as early as August.

 

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