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Arctic hare

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Arctic hare
Arctic Hare.jpg
Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Lepus arcticus

  • L. a. arcticus
  • L. a. bangsii
  • L. a. groenlandicus
  • L. a. monstrabilis[2]
Arctic hare running.jpg
the Arctic hare hopping through the snow

The Arctic hare is a species of hare known by the scientific name Lepus arcticus, and has at least four different subspecies. They live in the upper regions of Canada and Greenland and though rarely seen is not an endangered species. The Arctic hare plays an important role in the sustaining predatory species of its habitat, and spends a lot of its time in groups rather than alone.

Body Design

The Arctic hare's fur in the summer.

In the summer, the Arctic hare has grayish brown fur with black at the tip of its ears. During the Winter the Arctic hare has a white coat but maintains the black fur on the tip of its ears. In the farthest North ranges of this animal the Arctic hare maintains a white coat all year round. The Arctic hare's white coat during the winter helps camouflage it from predators. The Arctic hare can hope at speeds of 30 to 40 miles per hour with its powerful hind legs. In North America, the Arctic hare is the largest hare.[3]. These animals live in harsh winter environments so they have thick fur to keep them warm. The Arctic hare will sometimes dig a hole in the snow to shelter them from the harsh environment and huddle together in groups to stay warm when there are extreme weather conditions. The Arctic hare can weigh from 6 to 15 pounds(3 to 7 kg) and the length of its body and head can be from 19 to 26 inches(48 to 67 cm). The tail of the Arctic hare is from 1 to 3 inches(3 to 8 cm).[4]

Life Cycle

The female Arctic hare gives birth to 2 to 8 young in one litter. The Arctic hare has only one litter per year.[5]. The young Arctic hare's are called leverets. The leverets are born in early summer usually in June. The Arctic hare young are born in the open with nothing to shelter them but a small indentation in the ground. Just after the leverets are born the mother will stay close to them and watch over them, but after that the mother will only come once a day just to feed the leverets, about every 18 to 19 hours. The mother Arctic hare has an amazing sense of time and will arrive right on time and the leverets know exactly when their mother will come too. Once the young get older they will leave the nursing site and only come back to feed. At first, the leverets will arrive back with a bunch of time before the mother comes, but as time goes by the leverets will show up increasingly closer to when the mother comes. The young will stay together until September, usually by autumn the leverets are almost identical to the adults because they grow so rapidly. The young Arctic hare are able to breed by at least the second year after their birth. The main cause for the death of Arctic hares is being killed by predators. They also can die of things such as injury or disease. The Arctic hare does not die of disease very often but it happens more often when there are more of them living in groups. Other things that cause injury or death to the Arctic hare are falling objects such as rocks and glacier ice.[6]. The Arctic hare's lifespan is from 3 to 8 years.[7]


the young arctic hares are preyed upon by animals such as the arctic fox.

Arctic hare's do not hibernate during the winter, but use their thick coat of fur to keep them warm during the harsh winters they face. During the winter the Arctic hare usually eats woody plants, lichens and mosses. During other parts of the year the Arctic hare eats things such as buds, berries, leaves, roots and bark.[8] The Arctic hare's favorite food is Arctic Willow, which it eats most in late spring to early summer. The arctic hare is classified as a herbivore but there have been reports that it has eaten meat. Such as people seeing the Arctic hare grazing through the garbage looking for kitchen scraps witch contain a lot of meat in the arctic regions. During the winter when snow covers the ground the Arctic hare will use its keen sense of smell to locate food that it will then use its very powerful forelegs to dig out. The Arctic hare will also look for areas in which the wind has uncovered plants by blowing away the snow.[9]

The Arctic hare used to be of great benefit to the Native Americans who lived in the Arctic regions because they hunted the Arctic hare for food and to make clothes out of their skin.[10]. The Arctic hare also spreads the seeds of the plants that it eats and this helps the plants reproduce. The Arctic hare is also a host to four different parasites.[11]. Another way the Arctic hare plays a role in ecology is by being prey to the predators of its area. The young Arctic hares are especially hunted by predatory animals. This helps keep the predatory animals of the arctic regions such as the arctic fox, arctic wolf and even the snow owl alive because without food the animals would die off.[12].

Habitat and Range


The Arctic hare can be found in habitats such as tundra and mountainous habitats. The Arctic hare stays away from places where there are a lot of trees. It lives in places where there is vegetation on the ground without a lot of snow covering it. This hare also like to live in places where there are rocky slopes. The Arctic hare can be found in altitudes ranging from 0 to 900 km.[13].


The Arctic hare lives in places where it can blend in with the snow. The areas where the Arctic hare lives are mainly in places in northern Canada and Greenland. The Arctic hare does not live much further south than these places because it was not made to survive outside of the freezing tundra.[14]


The Arctic hare population tends to group up in herds rather than stay by themselves. On more than one occasion there have been groups of over a thousand hares seen together. The size of the group of Arctic hares is always changing, the large groups especially. With the larger groups, it seems that they tend to disperse more quickly than smaller ones would. The Arctic hare do not demonstrate territorial dominance over other Arctic hare.[15]. The Arctic hare's main means of communication is by smell. The Arctic hare also communicates by moving its ears, but this is not as vital as smell.[16].