Animals in Winter: Snowshoe Hare

The snowshoe hare, also known as the varying hare, is another animal that remains active throughout the winter. This animal’s color changes from brown to white in the winter in order to blend in with its surroundings. In the spring, the hare’s fur changes back to brown during a six-week molting period. The color change is spurred by the amount of sunlight the hare is exposed to.

The snowshoe hare has large back feet which allow it to travel through deep snow.  Unlike rabbits, which give birth in underground dens, the snowshoe hare gives birth above ground, and their young are born fully furred with their eyes open. These adaptations make it easier for the hare to survive harsh winter conditions. The size of their litters is connected to winter temperatures and snow accumulation, with larger litters born during periods of high snow accumulation and low temperatures.

In the winter, snowshoe hare feed on twigs, tender bark, stems of berry bushes, and seedlings. They are active at dawn, dusk, and during the night. During the day, they find shelter beneath logs, tree roots, or ledges. Snowshoe hares use coniferous tree cover to reduce visibility. When they travel for food, they move through softwood tracts so they can move undetected.  

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