Mountain hare

Species profile

Name: the mountain hare (Lepus timidus) – also known as the blue hare, tundra hare, variable hare, white hare, snow hare, alpine hare, and Irish hare – is a species of hare that is well adapted to polar and mountainous habitats.

Appearance: they are similar to brown hares, although slightly smaller, with shorter ears that lack black tips, and an all-white tail. They are larger than rabbits with longer legs.

Size: mountain hares grow up to 65 cm long with a tail of 8 cm and a weight of up to 5 kg.

Diet: their typical food is grass although their diet varies by region, hares living in Scandinavia where the snow covers the earth for months on end often feed on twigs and bark.

Did you know: each year mountain hares go through a dramatic transformation as they shed their brown summer coats and grow a new white winter coat. This white fur helps them to camouflage in the snow, while the brown summer coat is better suited for hiding amongst rocks and grasses. The Irish mountain hare (a subspecies) stays brown all year as there is less snow, and some have an unusual ‘golden’ fur, particularly those living on Rathlin Island.

Location: they are found in mountainous areas across Scandinavia, Eastern Siberia, the Alps, and Scotland. In Ireland, there is a subspecies which lives in lowland pastures, coastal grasslands, and salt marshes.

Where to see mountain hares

According to reports submitted to WildSide, you can see mountain hares in the following places:

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Photo credit: ErikaWittleib under a Creative Commons licence from Pixabay

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