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Arctic hares are species of hares with short ears and thick, white fur that change colours with the seasons. They are also known as polar rabbits. These hares are adapted to survive in the harsh, frozen tundra. They sport a brilliant white coat that provides excellent camouflage in the land of ice and snow. In spring, their colour changes to blue-gray in approximation of local rocks and vegetation.

Characteristics

Arctic hares have long and white fur in the winter. In the summer, their coat is grayish brown on top and white beneath. The ears are blackish around the edges year round. Arctic hares look like rabbits but have shorter ears and can stand up taller. Their small ears help them to keep warm during the cold winters. The small ears do not have a lot of area to have the blood vessels exposed to the cold so more heat is kept down in the body. The feet of Arctic hares are huge compared to other rabbits. Having big feet is like having snowshoes which help them to stay on top of the snow.

Arctic hares do not hibernate but survive with a thick coat of fur that conserves body heat. They usually dig holes under the ground or snow to keep warm and sleep. These hares are mostly found alone but are also found sitting out on the tundra in large groups of dozens, hundreds or even thousands of individuals. Whenever threatened by predator, they scatter in all directions which make it harder for them to be caught. And it looks sort of like big snowballs jumping around the tundra.

Arctic hares are fast and can bound at speeds of up to 60 kilometres an hour.Their predators include Arctic wolf, Arctic fox and Ermine.

Baby hare are called leverets. Females give birth to four to eight leverets in June through July. Leverets are born fully furred and have their eyes open. They are darker than their parents and the fur is blackish. Leverets grow quickly and by September, resemble their parents.

Size

On average, this species measures from 17 to 28 inches long, not counting a tail length of 1.8 to 3.9 inches. They weigh up to seven kilos.

Feeding Habits

Arctic hares feed on woody plants but also eat buds, berries, leaves, roots, bark, grasses and flowers.

Habitat

These hares are found in the harsh environment of the North American tundra. Unlike rabbits, Arctic hares like to live on the rocky slopes and upland tundra of the Arctic.

Lifespan

Arctic hares have life span of about five years.

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