Snowshoe Hares VS Arctic Hares – How Do The Two Compare? Are They The Same?

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The two hares that are best known for coping with cold winters, the arctic hare and snowshoe hare are both cute and resilient creatures. However, these two hares often get mistaken for each other.

Snowshoe hares and arctic hares are both hares that live in the northern parts of the US and Canada. However, the arctic hare is larger and more suited to mountainous terrains while the snowshoe hare prefers forests.

Do you want to learn more about the differences between the snowshoe hare and the arctic hare? We here at Floofmania have compiled all the info you need to know about these hares!

Are Snowshoe Hares And Arctic Hares The Same Thing?

Snowshoe hares and arctic hares are not the same things. They are both hares from the same family, which is leporids, but they have many differences that make them separate types of hares.

It is easy for people to mistake the two because of their names: snowshoe and arctic both make people think of snow. They are, however, very different hares that should not be confused with each other.

Do Snowshoe Hares And Arctic Hares Look Similar?

Arctic hares and snowshoe hares look similar when the snowshoe hare has its “winter coat.” They both have predominantly white coats with bits of blackish-grey fur around their ears, faces, and backs.

What makes the snowshoe hare distinguishable from the arctic hare is that the snowshoe hare’s fur turns brown in spring. The fur changes color for camouflage, so the snowshoe hare will blend into its surroundings and be able to better hide from predators.

During the winter, the snowshoe hare’s fur is white, which helps it to blend in with the snow, which is when it looks like an arctic hare. The fur will turn rusty brown in the summer months to match soil, trees, etc. Their legs and ears will remain white all year.

Learn more about what a snowshoe hare looks like by reading our article, “How Do I Recognize A Snowshoe Hare?”.

The arctic hare’s fur also changes color, but not as drastically as the snowshoe hare. In the winter, the arctic hare has white fur that turns blue-gray in spring to match the vegetation and rocks that exist in the hare’s environment.

Are Snowshoe Hares And Arctic Hares The Same Size?

These hares are not the same size since the arctic hare is almost two times longer than the snowshoe hare!

The average snowshoe hare is 16 inches long while the arctic hare can be 16-27 inches long!

As for weight, the arctic hare is obviously heavier, weighing 5-15 pounds. An adult snowshoe hare usually weighs a mere 3.5 pounds.

Do Snowshoe Hares And Arctic Hares Live In The Same Places?

The snowshoe hare and arctic hare do share some common territories. The snowshoe hare lives in the upper north states of the US, primarily in the forest bogs and dense forests. This hare is also found as far up as Alaska and throughout most of Canada.

You can learn more about their preferred habitats in our other article, “The Snowshoe Hare’s Habitat.”

As the name suggests, the arctic hare lives in the arctic northern tundra of North America. Generally, the arctic hare can be found in Northern Canada, specifically in the Arctic Islands and the northern areas of Labrador and Quebec. 

Arctic hares can travel pretty far from their native ranges, however. One arctic hare was spotted in Washington D.C., which means it traveled 240 miles!

As such, arctic hares and snowshoe hares can live in the same general places, and they’re both very common in Canada. However, they will not be in the exact same habitat.

The arctic hare prefers rocky mountainous areas and the tundra, whereas the snowshoe hare will prefer forests with lots of trees and shrubbery to hide in.

Which Is More Common: The Snowshoe Hare Or The Arctic Hare?

Unfortunately, there are no statistics as to how many of each hare exist in the wild. However, we can safely assume that there are more snowshoe hares than arctic hares because of their breeding habits.

Arctic hares only have one litter a year and birth 2-8 babies. On the other hand, the snowshoe hare can have up to 4 litters a year with as many as 8 babies per litter!

Do Snowshoe Hares And Arctic Hares Ever Meet In The Wild?

Arctic hare sitting on the edge of the snow.

There is no documented proof that an arctic hare and a snowshoe hare have met in the wild. However, it is still a possibility since both hares live in the northern parts of America. 

These two hares prefer different habitats, so they are unlikely to come across each other. 

Do Snowshoe Hares And Arctic Hares Eat The Same Food?

Snowshoe hares and arctic hares will eat the same food, but it depends on the circumstances.

For instance, arctic hares are often found in mountainous regions or tundra, which does not leave them much choice for vegetation. As such, arctic hares usually eat woody plants such as roots and willow twigs. If given the chance, they will also eat berries, mosses, and sedges.

Snowshoe hares prefer a forest-like habitat, which gives them a wider array of food. For example, snowshoe hares enjoy eating greens like garden plants, ferns, clover, and grass in the summer

However, the snowshoe hare is adaptable and will have a similar diet to the arctic hare in the winter. During the colder months, the snowshoe hare will eat twigs and bark as the Arctic hare would.

As cute as they may seem, both hares have been reported to be seen eating meat. Snowshoe hares in particular do not seem to care about what kind of meat they eat since they will eat other hares if given the chance.

Are Snowshoe Hares Or Arctic Hares Faster?

The snowshoe hare is faster than the arctic hare. The snowshoe hare can reach speeds of 50 mph while the arctic hare reaches 40 mph. Both hares are capable of maintaining these speeds for long distances.

Can Snowshoe Hares And Arctic Hares Breed?

Snowshoe hares and arctic hares can breed because they come from the same family. They are fairly closely related and will likely have no issues mating.

However, it is very unlikely that they will mate. As stated earlier, these hares can live in the same states and countries, but they prefer different habitats, so they may never see each other.

Additionally, they have a slight gap between their breeding seasons. The snowshoe hare’s breeding season is from mid-May to August while the arctic hare’s breeding season is from April to September.

Author: Allison Marie Dinglasan

Hello! I am Allison, an avid writer for 6 years with a deep interest in animals since I was a child. I grew up on Animal Planet and animal books and often did rescue work for stray and sickly cats, dogs, and birds in my area, which led to over 60 rescues. My future goal is to be a veterinarian to have a more hands-on approach to helping and learning about animals!

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