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      HARES AND RABBITS

 

Hares (Rabbits?)
(Lepus Americanus)

What's the difference between rabbits and hares? Well let's not split hares here but the main difference is hind legs. Hares have longer hind legs and are built for speed. They rarely use burrows or caves. Rabbits have shorter hind legs, are not as fast and therefore do use the cover of burrows and caves.

We will mostly discuss the snowshoe hare here. It is a symbol of Canada and predominant in the Rocky Mountains. The Snowshoe Hare has the unfortunate honor of being the main food source for a great many predators in Alberta. Their primary defence is their lightning fast speed, sharp wits and ability to "turn on a hare"! The breed survives by mass and rapid propogation (females can have 3 litters of leverets in a year), and the ability to survive on meager rations of something that grows in abundance, grasses.

HARES
Jackrabbit

 Similar species include the famous Jackrabbit (lepus townsendii) which predominates on the prairies. The name came from an abbreviation of jack-ass rabbit, so named because of its large donkey ears. Another near cousin (rabbits breed so fast they have millions of cousins) is the Mountain Cottontail (Sylvilagus nuttallii). Even the name cottontail evokes images of a cute little bundle of velvety fine fur with coal black eyes and twitching whiskers. Cottontails are most common in southern Alberta and on prairie lands.

HARES

Prints in the snow.
Hair Today and Gone Tomorrow!

 

RABBITS
Hare in its winter coat. Long hind legs give
it impressive, life-saving, burst-speed.


Snowshoe hares are not white year-round.
They grow new camouflage as the seasons change.
Summer camouflage is rusty brown and the winter coat
becomes a beautiful soft white color.

Often the ear tips are black.
They are born with black paws and develop
white paws which remain white year round.

It is interesting to note that hares' fur does not change efficiently in time with nature. An early winter will see many brown bunnies running around with little natural cover and an early or late spring can have make it difficult for hares to hide as well.

Hares and rabbits cannot effectively digest the cellulose in the food they eat. Therefore they count on intestinal bacteria to do the job while sometimes eating their own droppings (pellets) to give the digestive tract a second opportunity to absorb nutrients. It's a fact!

HARES AND RABBITS



Hares/rabbits are a common sight in Edmonton on lawns and in the expansive river valley park system

HARES

When food becomes scarce rabbits will actually curtail their own breeding. Female rabbits form dominant heirarchies and take control by not allowing younger females to breed.

Good places to see hares are the Edmonton River Valley, the cypress hills and in clearings in the Rockies. They usually will not venture far from bushes where they can take refuge in a hurry.
 

Athabasca Falls     EDITH CAVELL VALLEY

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