The colours of snowshoe hares
Updated: Dec 21, 2022
Did you know that snowshoe hares are one of a few species that change their colour from brown to white and then back to brown as winter comes and goes? This helps them stay camouflaged to their surroundings and avoid being seen by predators. The shedding and regrowing of their coat is triggered by changes in "photoperiod", or day length, as the seasons change. This is an amazing adaptation to have, however some snowshoe hares are running into problems as climate change makes the snow fall later or melt earlier in some areas. This creates a mismatch between the hare's colour and the colour of its environment, which makes it much harder to hide from predators. Check out the photo below to see how much more visible a hare is when it is white instead of brown in a snow-free habitat.
Extra fun fact: A few other animal species who change colour in the winter include Arctic foxes, all our local weasels, and most ptarmigans!
Photo courtesy of the USNPS