Monday, April 18, 2011

SNOWSHOE HARES

I think it's time I told you about another kind of bunny, since it is the Year of the Rabbit, as you might remember.  So today I will talk about the snowshoe hare.  These animals like to live up north, where there's lots of snow in the winter.  And what's really neat about them is that they can change colors with the seasons.  So in the winter, they are white, like snow.  And in the summer, they are brown, like the ground and the tree trunks.

Here's a map of all the places where snowshoe hares live, and as you can see, they are all over the place, especially in Canada.  They are not endangered at all, and that is because there are tons of them.  And the way there got to be so many of them is that they multiply like bunnies!

The females can start breeding when they are about a year old.  It takes 35-40 days before the baby hares are born.  Did you know that baby hares are called leverets?  I didn't know this before, but now I know it.  Anyway, here is something really interesting.  A mama hare can get pregnant a second time before her first litter is even born!  And the reason she can do this is because female hares have two uteruses.  Wow!  Talk about having some buns in the oven!
Anyway, when the leverets are born, they already have all their fur.  Also their eyes are open, and they can move around.  This is one big difference between hares and rabbits, because rabbits are born hairless.  Hares live in nests that are made in shallow holes in the ground, like maybe under some shrubs, but rabbits live underground in burrows.  So that's another difference between them.  Also rabbits have been tamed to make house pets, but hares have not.

A female snowshoe hare can have as many as four litters in a year.  Each litter usually has between three and eight leverets.  These baby hares can leave their nests within 24 hours of when they are born.  But it's a dangerous world out there, and many snowshoe hares don't make it past their first birthday.  Here's a list of all the animals and birds that like to eat them:  lynxes, bobcats, martens, weasels, minks, foxes, coyotes, mountain lions, owls, hawks, eagles, crows, ravens, black bears, wolves, and domestic dogs and cats.
Snowshoe hares run very fast.  They can go almost 30 miles an hour, and each bound is 10 feet long.  They have really big feet that act like snowshoes and help the hares run on top the snow.  So lots of times they can just outrun their predators.  Other times, they stay hidden because of their camouflage coat colors.  Their fur has three layers, and it is the outer layer that sheds twice a year so a new color can grow in.  It takes about 70 days for the color to change.
The places that snowshoe hares like to live are in young forests with lots of shrubby stuff for them to hide in.  Finding good places to live where it's easy to hide is even more important to them than finding places with lots of yummy food.

Mostly, the hares come out at night to eat.  During the day, they hang out in their shallow nests, which are called forms.  In the spring, they like to eat plants such as blueberry leaves, horsetail shoots, and fireweed.  In summer, they eat clover, grasses, and the leaves of willows, spruce, and birches.  When it's wintertime, they eat whatever twigs and tree branches and bark they can reach by walking on top the snow.  Sometimes they even eat meat that has been caught in traps.  Which is weird, because usually you think of rabbits and hares as being strict vegetarians.
I am sorry that snowshoe hares do not live in Missouri, because I think if I caught one, it would make a tasty meal.  But there are no snowshoe hares here, so I guess I will just have to be happy with cottontail rabbits -- if I can ever manage to catch one of them!

14 comments:

  1. this is AWESOME!! I used it for a report and i got a A+ THANK U i did NOT USE OR PRINT THIS OUT i wrote down some infromation thank u VERY MUCH =3

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    1. Dear Anonymous,
      I'm very glad to hear that you got such a good grade on your report, and it was partly because of the information in my wonderful blog! Hahahaha! It's good that you didn't copy it word-for-word, because that's not the best way to learn stuff. Keep up the good work!
      Sincerely, Piper

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  2. hello i am wondering if these are you pictures and if so, if i could use a couple of them for a website i am making for a class. all pictures would go to the credit of the photographer.

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    1. No, I did not take any of these photos myself. I found them by Googling "snowshoe hare image." But some of those photos are not in the public domain, so I might have used them illegally. (Shhh! Don't tell anyone!) Another good place to get photos is http://commons.wikimedia.org where all the photos are available for people to use.

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  3. Sweet Thanks!!! :)

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  4. Like the info and background. I, as well, used your info in a project.

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  5. I <3 da pics! i submited them to my science teacher i hope i gett a good grade on power point.
    -Willy Wonka (nickname)

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    1. i used the pics in a powwer point and i cited the site.
      thx again!
      -Willy Wonka

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    2. Good luck on your Power Point grade!

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  6. From experience... they are delicious. :) I liked reading this. I learned some new stuff about them.

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    1. Thanks for reading my blog and writing a comment. It's nice to know that snowshoe hares really are delicious. My mom won't let me go hunting for any. Plus they live up north where it is cold, and I would rather stay home where it is warm. We have cottontails here, but they run fast, and it's hard to catch them!
      Sincerely, Piper

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  7. Piper or Anyone Who Can Help Me,

    Do you know how to age a snowshoe hare baby?

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  8. I'm afraid I can't tell you. Is there a nature center or wildlife rescue group near you who could help? Or maybe a veterinarian or house rabbit rescue group would know. I'm guessing most rabbits have the same aging process, in terms of teeth development, etc.

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