All About the Arctic Hare

Few animals can survive the harsh climate and environment of the North American tundra quite as the arctic hare does. This hare, which is slightly larger than a rabbit, has a lot of ways to keep itself safe and warm. It continues to thrive in this frozen land where other species can’t.

What You Should Know

The arctic hare has taller hind legs plus longer ears than a typical rabbit. It’s also a fast creature and will reach speeds higher than 40 mph. During the winter months, it has a bright, white coat that helps it to camouflage in the snow and ice. During spring, that hair changes color to blue-gray, which allows it to blend in with rocks and vegetation.

The arctic hare is found in Northern Canada through Newfoundland and on the coasts of Greenland. A similar species, the Mountain Hare, is found in Arctic Asia and Europe. These animals are mostly identical and might be the same.

An arctic hare eats woody plants, including roots and willow twigs. It also eats berries, mosses, and sedges.

What Sound Do They Make?

Arctic hares don’t typically use their voice to communicate. Instead, they rely on scent and smell plus body language. The position of their ears tells a lot about what they are trying to say. Still, researches have been able to find three varying sounds that the hare makes. Before nursing, the female growls. Another sound it makes is a scream when trouble is imminent. Finally, it’s been heard making a lower growl when it’s caught.

In this video, you can see just how quiet the hare remains.

Group Characteristics

Arctic hares do not hibernate. Instead, they survive the cold weather with some physical and behavioral adaptations. Their thick fur and low surface area help them conserve body heat. Sometimes, they also dig shelters and huddle with other hares to stay warm.

Most of the time the arctic hare prefers to be alone but has been spotted in large groups when trying to stay warm. During mating season, the male may have more than one partner and typically defines its mating territory.

Females will birth babies once a year, either in the spring or beginning of summer. During that time, two to eight young hares are born. They will be ready to breed by the following year.

How Many are There?

Nobody has ever conducted a formal count of the arctic hare population. There’s thought to be enough that they are listed as least concern on the IUCN list. Current predators include the arctic wolf, grey wolf, arctic fox, red fox, snowy owl, ermine, Canadian lynx and gyrfalcon. They also need to protect their young from these predators.

The arctic hare was once crucial to Native Americans that hunted it for fur and food. While it still occurs, it’s estimated that only about 5% of the population is affected.

Watch a Video

In this first video, you can learn some interesting facts about the arctic hare.

Here are some hares having a good time in the wild.

Pop Culture

The arctic hare doesn’t show up in any popular movies or TV shows as it isn’t a popular animal to feature. There are many missed occasions to include this species. For example, it would have fit in well in Zootopia when Judy Hopps passed through Tundratown.

Interesting Facts

Among the numerous character traits that make the arctic hare different, it also contains its own set of sunglasses. This hare features black eyelashes that keep their eyes protected from the sun’s glare coming off of the ice and snow.