Snowshoe Hare

Close up of snowshoe hare

Iñupiaq Name: Ukalliq
Scientific Name: Lepus americanus

Snowshoe hares are one of two hares found in Alaska. They are often called rabbits, but they differ in a few ways. One of the ways is that rabbit offspring are born hairless and blind, while hares are fully furred, eyes open, and ready to move once their fur dries after birth. Snowshoe hares get their name from their large, well-furred feet that allow them to travel in the deep snows found in their preferred habitat.

The snowshoe hare is found throughout most of Alaska, Canada, parts of the Appalachian and Rocky Mountain states, as well as the northern parts of the Upper Midwest.

They like to live in cold and temperate areas with brushy or marshy areas. They also like to inhabit forests.

Life History:
Snowshoe hares, once they are a year old, can have up to three litters a year when nutrition sources are good. After gestating for about 36 days, the first litter of typically 4 leverets (young hares) are born in the middle of May. If there are more litters after, there are typically 6 leverets born. The young hares are eating green vegetation at about two weeks old and are ready to leave the nest after about a month. The female is will breed shortly after the litter is born. At birth, they weigh about 2 ounces and get to about 4 pounds as adults.

These hares will feed on a variety of plant material. During the summer months, they will feed on grasses, twigs and buds, and leaves. In the winter, they will feed upon spruce twigs and needles, bark, and trees that have put out buds before winter like willows.

The snowshoe hare has plenty predators to hide from. They are the main food source for lynx, but are hunted by foxes, coyotes, wolves, birds of prey, wolverines, and humans.

Iñupiaq Cultural Use:
The snowshoe hare is a great source of food and also for fur to make clothing.

Last updated: September 19, 2023

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