Arctic Hare

Category: Wildlife

Adapted to live in the cold and harsh conditions of the polar regions, the Arctic hare has developed an extremely thick coat and a high body fat percentage to help it stay warm. It is also exceptionally fast to avoid predators, reaching speeds of up to 40 mph (60 km/h)!

Arctic Hare

Arctic Hare

Scientific & Common Names

Kingdom - Animalia

Phylum - Chordata

Class - Mammalia

Order - Lagomorpha

Family - Leporidae

Genus - Lepus

Species - L. arcticus

Common Names - Arctic Hare, Polar Hare

Characteristics

The Arctic hare is the only rabbit species that can live in the extreme cold temperatures it calls home. It is pure white except for its nose, eyes, and the tips of its ears. Its ears are shorter than most other rabbit varieties, but it is one of the largest hares living today, at 30 inches long when fully grown.

Breeding

Arctic hare females can give birth to up to eight babies per litter. The babies are called leverets and stay with the mother until they are ready to go off on their own.

Behavior

These hares mainly feed on plants and eat snow to consume water. They are extremely fast, and need to be so they can evade their many predators which include the Arctic fox, red fox, gray wolf, lynx, snowy owl and even humans. Little is known about how long these hares can live in the wild, but they do not do very well in a captive setting.

History

Mainly distributed throughout the tundras of Greenland and northern Canada, the Arctic hare survives by eating woody plants, mosses, and lichens, which they must dig through the snow to find during the challenging winter months. They also like to dig holes to keep warm.

Present Status

Classified as “least concern” on the conversation status spectrum, the Arctic hare is densely populated and in no immediate threat of a population decline.