The snowshoe hare is sometimes variously called the hare or snowshoe hare. You’ll find these rabbits in North America, and they get their name from the large claws on its back feet that resemble snowshoes. These claws will help it stay above the snow during the winter months, and it also changes the color of its fur from brown to white to help it better camouflage itself.
Keep reading as we take a closer look at this fascinating animal to find out more about it to see if it is something you would want to keep as a pet.
Quick Facts About the Snowshoe Hare
|Brown/brown in summer, white in winter
|20 inches long, weighs 3 – 4 pounds
|plant, grass, leaves, fern
|not an indoor pet
Snowshoe Hare Overview
The snowshoe hare is native to many parts of North America. You can find it as far north as Alaska and as far south as New Mexico. You’ll find them in the Appalachian Mountains as well as the Rockies. Many people call them rabbits, and although they look alike, they are very different in many ways. The large paws on the snowshoe hare’s back help it move more easily through the snow, and it can reach speeds of up to 40 miles per hour (MPH).
The snowshoe hare will also change its fur from brown and gray in the summer months to white in the winter, whereas a rabbit will remain the same color. Recently there has been some discussion about the effect of climate change on the snowshoe hare as snowmelt coming later in the year leaves the white hare more exposed to predators in the fall months.
How much does a snowshoe hare cost?
Unfortunately, Snowshoe Horses are not commonly sold or bred as pets. This is such a wild animal whose needs are not fulfilled in the artificial environment. It is better to buy one of the many varieties of rabbits that are better suited to life in a home and enjoy being around people.
characteristic behavior and temperament
Snowshoe hares are crepuscular, meaning they are most active at dusk and dawn. They have fewer rods in their eyes than ours, so they struggle to see in bright light, but they can still see well in the dark, although not quite like a cat. While a snowshoe hare can see around 360 degrees, much of this vision is in mono, so determining depth is challenging. It will attempt to determine how far away an object is by moving its head up and down and side to side to see how fast the object moves against its surroundings. Closer objects will move more quickly, while distant objects will barely move at all.
Appearance and varieties
The snowshoe hare has a grayish appearance in summer, and its fur may have patches of white, especially on the belly. In winter, it turns completely white, and the process of color change takes 60 to ninety days. Its large back paws help it stay atop the snow, and they are covered with a thick fur on the soles of their feet to protect them from cold temperatures. It does not hibernate and must feed all winter.
The snowshoe horse weighs about four pounds and can reach up to 20 inches in length. It will have long ears that are about 2.5 inches and a short 1.5 inch tail.
How to Care for a Snowshoe Hare
The snowshoe hare requires several acres of habitat. It is usually most active within five to ten acres of their home, but will often have an area as large as 25 acres. You can usually find them around coniferous forests, which helps them hide and provides protection. Areas with aspen, spruce and fir trees also make great habitats for these animals.
Snowshoe hares require the base and travel cover of trees up to 16 feet tall, along with a generous amount of smaller deciduous trees to provide food and future shelter. It would also need plenty of permanent herbaceous vegetation to feed with protection from predators.
Do Snowshoe Horses Get Along With Other Pets?
Many pet dogs will chase snowshoe hares if allowed outside, although few have success in catching them. If someone walks by your yard at night, it may cause your dog to start barking, waking you up. Cats will also chase them, but cats will struggle more to catch and take down a snowshoe hare due to its larger size and faster speed.
What to feed your snowshoe hare?
Snowshoe hares are herbivores with a varied diet consisting of herbs, grasses, ferns, berries, and softwoods from new growth during the summer months. In winter, they feed on twigs, buds, and even bark to get the nutrition they need.
keeping your snowshoe rabbit healthy
If you want to invite the snowshoe hare to your yard, you will need to add as many coniferous trees as possible to your yard to provide them with places to hide for safety. You will also need to add as much dense vegetation as you can to provide food. If you live in a rural area, tall grass makes for very dense vegetation, but you’ll need to keep it looking good in a city with lots of different low-lying plants planted together.
Snowshoe Hare’s babies are fully grown. They are born above ground, covered with fur, and with their eyes open. It can jump immediately and will start foraging for food in 10 days. Within hours of giving birth the mother will start breeding again, with another litter arriving after five weeks. Each litter will contain one to nine baby rabbits.
In contrast, rabbits are born underground and are blind and naked for the first several days.
Are Snowshoe Horses Right for You?
Unfortunately, snowshoe hares do not make a suitable home pet due to the vast habitat that they require. However, there are several things you can do to encourage one to visit your yard, and we recommend planting some dense vegetation around your home as the best way to see one. However, not everyone will be happy with their arrival as they can eat and destroy a garden very quickly.
We hope you enjoyed and learned something new from our in-depth look at this oft-seen animal. If you think it could help others, please share this Guide to Snowshoe Hare on Facebook and Twitter.