The other day I stumbled upon this gif on reddit and it intrigued me, so I did a little research on the arctic hare, also known as lepus arcticus.
At first glance one would think, hey, it’s two white bunnies fighting!
(I love the one backing up on the far right.)
But in actuality they are not bunnies or rabbits. They are hares and they are different from a typical wild rabbit.
This is an arctic hare.
Arctic hares are found in the northernmost regions of Greenland, the Arctic Islands and Canada, including Ellesmere Island and further south in Newfoundland and Labrador (animaldiversity.edu).
They look like rabbits but have shorter ears with black tips, are taller when standing, and, unlike rabbits, can thrive in cold climates.
Arctic hares have heavily padded feet, strong hind and front claws, thick coats, and black eye lashes to protect them from the sun’s glare.
Their padded feet act like snow shoes and prevent them from sinking into the snow. Their front feet have strong, long claws to help them dig beneath the snow to find food.
Their coats change colors with the seasons. In the winter they are white but in the summer they are brown. This is so they can camouflage and blend in with their surroundings in order to avoid prey. Their tail, however, always remains white.
Hares, unlike other mammals, do not hibernate throughout the winter. They have a great sense of smell that helps them find food buried under the ice and snow. They eat anything leafy and chew on bark, roots and willow (canadiangeographic.com).
They can hop on their hind legs like kangaroos up to an impressive speed of 30mph. They also have incisors (teeth) that are longer and straighter than most hares which they use to pull plants out from rocky crevices.
How cool is this animal?!