12 Interesting Arctic Hare Facts For Kids (2024 Updated)
The Arctic hare is a type of hare that has evolved to thrive in the tundra of the Arctic and other freezing biomes. The Arctic hare has short ears and legs, a small nose, nearly 20% body fat, and a thick covering of fur to help it survive. It burrows holes in the ground or under the snow to stay warm and sleep. Arctic hares resemble rabbits but differ because they have shorter ears, are higher when standing, and can survive in freezing temperatures. These hares do not hibernate; instead, they have developed many behavioral and physiological adaptations to withstand the dangerous cold. They can roam in packs of dozens or more hares, but they are typically encountered alone, occasionally traveling with more than one mate. The Arctic hare has a top speed of 60 km/h.
12 fascinating facts about the Arctic Hare.
1. Arctic Hares are the biggest living member of the rabbit family.
The Arctic hare is among the biggest lagomorphs still alive. This species’ body weight ranges from 2.4 to 5 kg on average, while giant individuals might weigh up to 7 kg. All four feet have strong claws, but the ones on its hind legs are pretty long, enabling it to dig into hard snow and ice when it rushes and create a hole for cover. It can also hop like a kangaroo on its hind legs and can run at speeds of 30 miles per hour when it does so. They can achieve 40 miles per hour when running with all four feet planted firmly on the ground.
2. Arctic Hares have two types of fur.
The Arctic hare in Newfoundland and Southern Labrador changes its coat color in the summer to winter by molting and growing new fur. In the summer, its fur is grayish-brown. Short ears with black tips are present. It has an all-white coat in the winter. In the winter, its white fur aids in hiding it from predators. The amount of light received during the day, or photoperiod, is assumed to be at least primarily responsible for the color change. In response to the shorter days, the hare’s brain receives information from retinal receptors, prompting the brown hair on its extremities to turn white. Other Arctic creatures, like ermine and ptarmigan, can maintain their camouflage while the environment shifts because of this seasonal molting.
3. Arctic hares can survive in icy conditions.
Although arctic hares frequently live alone and in solitary situations, they occasionally cluster in groups of six to several hundred individuals to stay warm during the bitterly cold arctic winter. These groups go by names such as down, band, husk, or warren. Temperatures in the winter can drop as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the arctic hare is ready for this. It has a thick coat that covers its entire body, including its paws. Burrowing is a quick and straightforward strategy to escape the harsh wind and offers protection from predators. In most cases, only one hare lives in a burrow unless it’s a mother with a young one. Arctic Hares in the far north of the Arctic have white fur all year long, but those in the more southern regions will molt and switch to brown fur for better summer camouflage.
4. Arctic hares are omnivores.
In the Arctic, food can be sparse, but hares survive by consuming woody plants, mosses, and lichens, which they may dig out of the snow to obtain in the winter. They consume buds, berries, leaves, roots, and bark during other seasons. It has been reported that Arctic hares occasionally consume meat, including fish and caribou stomach contents. They consume snow to quench their thirst.
5. Arctic hares have a good sense of smell.
They can dig for food beneath the snow because they have a keen sense of smell. They may spend many hours looking for food. Because of their keen sense of smell, arctic hares may detect buried food. They “nose blink”—move their noses up and down to identify the scent. They can communicate with other animals by releasing aromas through their noses.
6. Female arctic hares give birth to one liter every year.
Arctic hares are mostly found alone. However, they can occasionally be seen in packs of up to 100 individuals. Arctic hares do not gather during the breeding season like mammals, and other animals do. Although males can mate with more than one partner, males and females couple up and form mating territories. A female gives birth to one litter of 2 to 8 tiny children, which mature exceptionally quickly.This activity reduces predators’ likelihood of being noticed. Around May or April is when the breeding season begins. The Arctic hare’s gestation period is 53 days; hence the young are born between May and July.
7. Arctic hares are food for many animals.
Despite their efforts of burrowing and staying camouflaged, arctic hares are food for many animals. The Arctic fox, Red fox, Arctic Wolf, Lynx, Snowy owl, Rough-legged hawk, and occasionally humans are known Arctic hare predators.
The snowy owl’s common name, Harfangs, which means “hare-catcher” in Anglo-Saxon, comes from the fact that it primarily hunts young hares. The Arctic wolf is the most effective predator of Arctic hares; even pups in their first autumn can take down adult hares. Smaller predators like arctic foxes usually feast on young hares. Gyrfalcons on Ellesmere Island in Nunavut utilize their bones and feet to build their nests before carrying and splitting hares. In the southernmost portion of the Arctic hares’ range, peregrine falcons also feed on them.
8. Arctic hares can quickly adapt to harsh conditions.
Numerous physiological traits of the Arctic hare are adapted to its harsh environment. The Arctic hare can maintain a body temperature (38.9 degrees C) equivalent to other lagomorphs despite having a basal metabolic rate of 17%–38% lower than anticipated due to its low surface area to volume ratio and sound insulation. The Arctic hare’s reduced metabolic rate also enables it to conserve energy, which helps it adapt to its chilly and arid surroundings. The Arctic hare’s excellent locomotor efficiency and propensity for extended naps and brief foraging bursts help it preserve energy and survive on a meager diet.
9. Unlike most rabbits, arctic hares can’t be kept as pets.
These creatures are not meant to live in captivity. This is because they need lots of room to move around. They also thrive in cold climates and love to dig outside. Therefore, people rarely adopt them as pets, though it’s worth noting that they are usually rescued. If an Arctic hare is kept indoors, its lifespan is significantly shorter. They can live up to 24 months in captivity but can survive for nearly five years in the wild. Even though they fall under the “least risk” category for conservation status, you can sponsor them through various animal welfare organizations.
10. Arctic hares don’t like to swim.
Because arctic hares are typically considered ground dwellers who only swim when in danger, seeing one swimming is somewhat uncommon. Although they can swim, they don’t enjoy swimming and only seldom do it. If an arctic hare is swimming, it’s not because it prefers to float away in the chilly water; instead, it’s trying to escape a predator. Arctic hares dread swimming more since their fur doesn’t dry quickly after swimming.
11. Arctic hares can see 360 degrees without turning their head.
Black eyelashes on Arctic Hares shield their eyes from glare. Arctic Hares can view 360 degrees around them without rotating their heads, thanks to where their eyes are located. They can see above their heads and have excellent eyesight. Arctic hares’ retinas contain more rods than cones when compared to human retinas. They can see more clearly in the dark than we can, yet their vision is only two colors. For instance, they can distinguish between green and blue but cannot see red.
12. Arctic hares are nocturnal.
Nocturnal animals are those that sleep during the day and are awake at night. Arctic hares are nocturnal. Due to their activity at night, nocturnal animals frequently have keener senses than daytime creatures. Nocturnal animals typically have more advanced senses of smell, sight, and hearing to survive. There are many hypotheses about how animals evolved into nocturnal creatures, but evolutionary biology is the most commonly accepted. The ancestors of current animals lived and developed millions of years ago, and to avoid diurnal (active during the day) predators, they acquired nocturnal features.
13. Arctic hares do not hibernate.
Hibernation is a prolonged period of profound slumber that allows animals to conserve energy and get through the winter without eating much. The animal uses less energy during hibernation because its body temperature drops, and its respiration and heartbeat slow down. Animals that hibernate prepare for their winter slumber by consuming more food than they need and storing it as body fat, which they use as energy while sleeping. The frigid tundra of North America is home to the arctic hare. These hares do not hibernate; instead, they have developed many behavioral adaptations to withstand the dangerous cold.
Arctic hare is resilient and highly adaptive. Its heightened sense of smell and good eyesight make it one of the best members of the rabbit family. We hope you enjoyed reading about this adorable animal.