Hare Lepus americanus
Head and body length of L. americanus is between 400-700
mm, tail length is 35-100 mm. Weights range from 1,350-7,000
grams. Females are generally larger than males. L. americanus
has long, black-tipped ears and large hind feet which are well
furred. Upper parts are reddish brown with white below. There
are two molts per year, when L. americanus grows a white
pelage for the winter and then sheds it for the summer. In the
Pacific Northwest, where there is not continuous snow cover
during the winter, L. americanus retains the reddish
brown coloration year round.
L. americanus prefers evergreen forests, and is primarily
nocturnal and crepuscular, using a log or stump for shelter
by day. At night, a complex system of runways through grass
and undergrowth are used. During the summer, L. americanus
clips the vegetation along these pathways and packs it down
in the winter. They prefer grasses and herbaceous matter when
available, taking buds, twigs and bark in the winter.
Gestation lasts 30-38 days, with 4 litters produced per year.
Population densities are cyclical throughout its range, and
during peak times, litter size ranges from 8-10 offspring. At
other times the average litter size is 4 leverets. They are
born fully furred, in an open place or shallow depression. The
young are visited by the female for nursing, but are highly
precocial. At 1 day old they can crawl, nibble grass at 10 days,
and are weaned at 1 month. Life expectancy for L. americanus
is short, about 1-2 years, as they are prey to coyotes, bobcats,
Canada lynxes, red foxes, weasels, and man.
L. americanus is found in S and C Alaska (USA) to S and
C coasts of Hudson Bay to Newfoundland and Anacosti Isl (introduced)
(Canada), south to S Appalachians, S Michigan, Norht Dakota,
NC New Mexico, SC Utah, and EC California (USA).