varying hare

varying hare

varying hare, any of several medium-sized hares, sometimes known as snowshoe rabbits, having white fur in winter and turning brownish in summer. They are 18 to 19 in. (45-48 cm) long and have very large back feet and relatively small ears for hares. Varying hares range over the northern half of North America. Most species feed on foliage, twigs, and other succulent vegetation in summer and on bark in winter. The varying hare is classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Lagomorpha, family Leporidae.

The Snowshoe Hare (Lepus americanus), also called the Varying Hare, is a species of hare found in North America. It has the name "snowshoe" because its back feet are so big, it looks as though it is wearing big shoes to walk in the snow. The animal's big feet prevent it from sinking into the snow when it hops and walks.

For camouflage, its fur turns white during the winter and rusty brown during the summer. Its flank are white year-round. The Snowshoe Hare is also distinguishable by the black tufts of fur on the edge of its ears. Its ears are shorter than those of most other hares.

In summer, it feeds on plants like grass, ferns and leaves; in winter, it eats twigs, the bark from trees, and buds from flowers and plants and, along with the Arctic Hare, has been known to steal meat from baited traps. It is sometimes seen feeding in small groups. This animal is mainly active at night and does not hibernate.

The Snowshoe Hare may have up to 4 litters in a year which average 2 to 4 young. Males compete for females and females may breed with several males.

There are six subspecies of this hare:

  • Lepus americanus americanus
  • Lepus americanus bairdii
  • Lepus americanus cascadensis
  • Lepus americanus dalli
  • Lepus americanus struthopus
  • Lepus americanus virginianus


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