Arctic hare

Despite often being called an Artic Rabbit, it is a species of hare, not a rabbit

Daniel W. Carstensen

Renowned for their resilience in the unforgiving Arctic environment, they possess a range of adaptations that enable them to thrive in one of the harshest climates on Earth. Unlike rabbits, they can be distinguished by their shorter ears, which stand atop their heads, and their taller stature, making them well-suited to their icy habitat.

One of the most striking features of Arctic hares is their remarkable coat, which undergoes seasonal changes to provide optimal insulation against the extreme cold. In winter, their fur transforms into a thick, soft, and pristine white, blending seamlessly with the snow-covered landscape. Notably, black tufts adorn the edges of their ears, enhancing their camouflage and providing additional protection against frostbite. As temperatures rise with the onset of summer, Arctic hares molt their winter coat, revealing a grey-blue to brownish-grey fur, while the chest and underbelly maintain a consistent grey hue.

Despite their preference for solitude, Arctic hares occasionally gather in groups, particularly during colder periods, to benefit from communal warmth. This behavior, known as huddling, allows individuals to conserve body heat and withstand the harsh Arctic temperatures more effectively. By sharing body heat and sheltering one another, these hares demonstrate remarkable social behavior adapted to their challenging environment.

In addition to their adeptness at coping with the cold, Arctic hares showcase impressive athleticism, particularly in their ability to navigate across their icy terrain. With powerful hind legs, they can achieve remarkable speeds of up to 65 km/h (40 mph) through rapid, agile hopping. This exceptional agility not only aids in evading predators but also facilitates efficient foraging and exploration of their vast Arctic habitat.

Beyond their land-based locomotion, Arctic hares also demonstrate surprising proficiency in traversing aquatic environments. Despite the icy waters of the Arctic, these hares are excellent swimmers, capable of navigating across frozen lakes and rivers with ease.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Canada
2018
Manitoba, Québec, Labrador
Canada
2018
Newfoundland, Nunavut, Northwest Territories
Greenland
2018

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No