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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, North American Mammals

  Lagomorpha · Leporidae · Lepus americanus

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Lepus americanus

Snowshoe Hare

Order: Lagomorpha
Family: Leporidae

Image of Lepus americanus
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Conservation Status: Least Concern.

The Snowshoe Hare is broadly distributed in the north from coast to coast and occurs in a variety of habitat types, including swamps, hardwood forests, and mixed and evergreen forests. Nocturnal like most members of the family, this hare consistently travels along the same runways and tends to remain hidden in vegetation until sundown. It is active year round and can have two to five litters per year, each producing one to eight offspring. Their populations fluctuate radically over 10-year cycles, which is probably because of changes in food supply: the hare population grows, they over-graze, and starvation follows. True to its name, the Snowshoe Hare has large feet padded by dense spiraling hairs, each acting like a spring. Most Snowshoe Hares change color, from a summer brown coat to winter white, offering camouflage in each season.

Also known as:

Snowshoe Rabbit, Varying Hare

Sexual Dimorphism:

Females are larger than males.


Average: 450 mm
Range: 363-520 mm


Average: 1,300 g males; 1,500 g females
Range: 900-1,700 g males; 900-2,200 g females


Erxleben, J.C.P., 1777.  Systema regni animalis per classes, ordines, genera, species, varietas, cum synonymia et historia animalium.  Classis I, Mammalia, p. 330.  Wegand, Leipzig, 636 pp.


Mammal Species of the World (opens in a new window).

Distribution of Lepus americanus

Image of Lepus americanus
Female snowshoe hare showing advanced pregnancy, Lutsen, Minnesota, June.
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Image of Lepus americanus
Notice the white feet, even in summer
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Image of Lepus americanus
The well-camouflaged rabbit
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Image of Lepus americanus
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