Home > Blog > Wildlife of the Week > The Mesmerizing Snowshoe Hare: Wildlife of the Week – 2023 Week 15

Posted: April 9, 2023

Our Wildlife of the Week – 2023 Week 15…

Meet the “Snowshoe Hare”!

(Lepus Americanus)
a damp snowshoe hare
A snowshoe hare rests on the side of the park road near Wonder Lake in Denali National Park & Preserve.

Snowshoe Hare Physical Description

Snowshoe Hares range in length from 16.26 to 20.39 inches (413 to 518 mm), of which 1.54 to 2.05 inches (39 to 52 mm) are tail. The hind foot, long and broad, measures 4.61 to 5.79 inches (117 to 147 mm) in length. The ears are 2.44 to 2.76 inches (62 to 70 mm) from notch to tip. Snowshoe Hares usually weigh between 3.15 to 3.42 lbs (1.43 and 1.55 kg). Males are slightly smaller than females, as is typical for most Hares.1

a hare with brown back and white belly
A snowshoe hare going through its color change in Denali National Park & Preserve.

In the summer, Snowshoe Hare coats are a grizzled rusty or grayish brown, with a blackish middorsal line, buffy flanks and a white belly. The face and legs are cinnamon brown. The ears are brownish with black tips and white or creamy borders. During the winter, the fur is almost entirely white, except for black eyelids and the blackened tips on the ears. The soles of the feet are densely furred, with stiff hairs (forming the snowshoe) on the hind feet.1


Snowshoe Hares In Action

snowshoe hare eating green leaved plant
Snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus) in North Cascades National Park.

Snowshoe Hares are typically solitary, but they often live at high densities, and individuals share overlapping home ranges. They are active at low light levels and so are most often seen out and about at dawn, dusk, and during the night. They are also active on cloudy days.1

During the daylight hours, Hares spend a great deal of time grooming, and they take fitful naps. Most activity is restricted to pathways, trampled down “roads” in the vegetation that the hares know very thoroughly.1

Hares like to take dust baths. These help to remove ectoparasites (pathogens such as ticks, fleas, lice, parasitic flies and mites) from the hares’ fur.1

Snowshoe Hares are also accomplished swimmers. They occasionally swim across small lakes and rivers, and they have been seen entering the water in order to avoid predators.1


Where to Spot Snowshoe Hares

a snowshoe hare on its hind legs in a forest
A snowshoe hare sits on the side of the park road in Igloo Canyon in Denali National Park & Preserve.

Snowshoe Hares are most often found in open fields, fence rows, swamps, riverside thickets, cedar bogs and coniferous lowlands. Snowshoe Hares are found throughout Canada and in the northernmost United States. The range extends south along the Sierras, Rockies, and Appalachian mountain ranges.1

The Snowshoe Hare can be found in over 29 National Parks and many other National Park Service sites.2 Including:


Snowshoe Hare Conservation Status

a white hare sitting in the snow
A snowshoe hare in winter in Denali National Park and Preserve.

Snowshoes Hares are common throughout their range. Their rapid reproduction makes it unlikely that they will become a major concern for conservationists.1

Snowshoe Hares are important prey animals in their ecosystem. They are utilized widely as a source of wild meat. In addition to this, they are an important prey species for many predators whose furs are highly valued. Hares may damage trees, especially during periods of high population density.1

Snowshoe Hares and You

Have you seen a Snowshoe Hare in it’s natural environment? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Do you have a picture of these amazing creatures? Share it on social media with us and tag us in your post.

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Interested in Wildlife Photography???
Check out this amazing beginners guide from National Geographic:
National Geographic Photo Basics The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Great Photography

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Want tips for photographing wildlife? Check out this great article for tips from the National Park Service.

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‘We got some of the above information from the following:
1: Animal Diversity Web – Lepus americanus – Snowshoe Hare
2: NPSpecies – Find Parks Where a Species is Found

Check out these recent posts from Discover Our Parks:


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