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Arctic Hare

Arctic Hare Facts

Size 17-27.5 inch (43-70 cm) (body); 1.7-4 inch (4.5-10 cm) (tail)
Speed Up to 37 mph (60 km/h) (short distance)
Weight 5.5-12 lb (2.5–5.5 kg)
Lifespan 3-8 years
Food Roots, moss, berries, buds
Predators Snow-owl, wolf, polar bear, Arctic fox
Habitat Greenland, North Canada
Order Lagomorpha
Family Leporidae
Genus Lepus
Scientific name Lepus arcticus
Characteristics Snow-white coat, furry paws

Main Characteristics

The arctic hare is one of the largest rabbits worldwide. It has a very dense coat that keeps it warm even at bitterly cold temperatures. It has a very good sense of hearing, sense of smell and eyesight.

Arctic Hare Photo: Sophia Granchinho/Shutterstock

Adaption to the Habitat

How Do Arctic Hares Survive the Cold?

Only few animals have managed to adapt to habitats as cold and barren as the Arctic tundra. During the winter temperatures can reach -40 degrees Fahrenheit (-40 degrees Celsius). Yet, the arctic hare is perfectly prepared for this. Its entire body – including the paws – is covered by a very dense coat. Basically, arctic hares are loners, but if it is really cold, they like to huddle together to keep each other warm. They also dig little dens into the snow, so that the icy wind sweeps over them.


Arctic Hare Photo: critterbiz/Shutterstock


What Do Arctic Hares Eat?

You can buy strawberries at the supermarket even in winter. Yet, the arctic hare does not have a shop within reach, so that it has to make do with the food provides by nature: Woody plants, mosses, and lichen. This does not sound very tasty to us, but the rabbit can manage quite well with this. Fortunately the tundra is not covered with snow all year long. During the summer there are delicious buds, berries, leaves, roots and bark available.

Do Arctic Hares Hibernate?

No, Arctic hares don't hibernate.

Senses and Abilities

How Fast Is an Arctic Hare?

Are you able to run as fast as a car? Just imagine: The arctic hare could even overtake a car in the city. With one leap it can jump as far as 6.5-9.8 feet (2-3 meters) and reach a speed of up to 37 mph (60 km/h) over short distances thanks to its strong hind legs. The first “rear wheel drive” that works on snowy ground! With a little luck, this enables the arctic hare to escape enemies such as the Arctic fox or the wolf.

Arctic Hare Arctic Hare with summer coat - Photo: Antero Topp/Shutterstock


Anatomy and Appearance

Summer Coat and Winter Coat

During the summer, the arctic hare has a grey or brown coat. With a white coat it would be easily noticeable for its enemies in the brown-green tundra. During the winter it changes the color of its coat to a beautiful snow-white shade, so that it can hardly be detected in the snowy landscape.

Never Without My Ski Goggles

Arctic hares have their "ski goggles" integrated so to speak. Their black eyelashes protect them against the gleaming sun.

Arctic Hare Photo: critterbiz/Shutterstock


Arctic hares give birth during the "summer", when it is not that cold. One litter comprises 2-8 baby rabbits, which are hidden in the thicket on cozy beds made of moss and other plants. After about two months they are already able to look after themselves.

The European Hare Is Related To:

  • African Savanna Hare
  • Black-Tailed Jackrabbit
  • Mountain Hare
  • Scrub Hare
  • Snowshoe Hare
  • White-Tailed Jackrabbit

Animals in the Same Biome:

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