Snowshoe Hare

A brown-colored snowshoe hare hiding behind a thicket of grass.
Snowshoe hare hiding amongst grass and rocks.

NPS/Jim Peaco

 
Black track of a snowshoe hare
Snowshoe hare track

Scientific Name

Lepus americanus

Number in Yellowstone

Common in some places

Where to See

Norris Geyser Basin area

Identification

  • 14.5–20 inches long, 3–4 pounds.
  • Large hind feet enable easy travel on snow; white winter coat offers camouflage; gray summer coat.
  • Transition in seasonal fur color takes about 70–90 days; seems to be triggered in part by day length.

Habitat

  • Found particularly in coniferous forests with dense understory of shrubs, riparian areas with many willows, or low areas in spruce-fir cover.
  • Rarely venture from forest cover except to feed in forest openings.
  • Eat plants; uses lodgepole pine in winter.
  • Preyed upon by lynx, bobcats, coyotes, foxes, weasels, some hawks, and great horned owls.

Behavior

  • Breed from early March to late August.
  • Young are born with hair, grow rapidly and are weaned within 30 days.
  • Docile except during the breeding season when they chase each other, drum on the ground with the hind foot, leap into the air, and occasionally battle .
  • Mostly nocturnal; their presence in winter is only advertised by their abundant tracks in snow.
 
A wolf standing on a snowy bank near brown grass howls

Mammals

Home to the largest concentration of mammals in the lower 48 states.

Last updated: July 12, 2017

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168

Phone:

307-344-7381

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