Snowshoe hares are common throughout Togiak Refuge. Arctic hares are rare, with only occasional sightings, and their populations are thought to be declining throughout most of their range.

  • Snowshoe Hare (Lepus americanus)

    Showshoe hares are usually 18 to 20 inches in length, weighing three to four pounds. Their summer coats are yellowish to grayish brown with white underparts, and the tail is brown on top. During the winter, their coat is replaced by white fur, but the hair is dusky at the base with a gray underfur. Snowshoe hares' ears are dark at the tip.

    Showshoe hares are found in brushy areas, forests, and wooded wetlands. They feed on a variety of vegetation including grasses, buds, twigs, leaves, needles, and bark. Snowshoe hares travel on well-established trails or runways at all times of the year.

    Young are born April through August with two to three litters per year. Litters typically consist of two to four leverets (young hares) and can range from one to seven. Leverets weigh about two ounces at birth and can walk as soon as their fur is dry. They are weaned after about a month, but will eat green vegetation as early as two weeks old. 

  • Arctic Hare (Lepus othus)


     The Arctic hare is also called the tundra or Alaskan hare. It should be noted that some authors separate Arctic (Lepus arcticus) and Tundra (Lepus othus) hares into two species. Arctic hares are larger than snowshoe hares: 22 to 28 inches in length. In summer, the coat is grayish brown above and white below, with a whitish base to the hairs. Their winter coat is long and the fur is white to the base. Arctic hares have ears that are blackish along the edges and a tail that remains white year-round.

    Arctic hares occupy windswept, rocky slopes and upland tundra, often in groups. They tend to avoid lowlands and wooded areas. Arctic hares feed on willow shoots and various dwarf arctic plants.

    The reproductive season of the Arctic hare starts later than that of the snowshoe hare, and there is probably only one litter per year. Litters are usually six or seven, and the leverets are darker than the adults, with a black tinge to their fur.

  • Resources

    Burt, William H. and Richard P. Grossenheider. 1980. Peterson field guide to mammals. Houghton Mifflin Company. Boston Massachusetts.

    Alaska Geographic Society. 1996. Mammals of Alaska: a comprehensive field guide from the publishers of Alaska geographic. The Alaska Geographic Society. Anchorage Alaska.