During the winter much of our wildlife becomes inconspicuous. Many of the birds have migrated south, night falls quickly so that we no longer see deer and moose on the move and many other animals are hibernating. We do, however, have one furry friend that stays and that is the snowshoe hare. Recently my husband and I were out snowshoeing and had the good fortune of having a snowshoe hare cross our path. I had forgotten about this mammal and what it must do to survive our blustering and cold winters. This mammal completes a full molt in both spring and fall. Hares transform from their summer rusty browns to a winter white with a black tip on the ears. This means of camouflage helps the hare blend in with the forest floor during the summer and the snowy landscape in winter. This furry friend hopped and bounded away quickly in the opposite direction from us. Its' dense furry feet helped to distribute its weight on the snow and act as snowshoes.
As is with nature, hares are a favorite food source for coyotes, bobcats, foxes, owls and hawks. It is estimated that 80% of hares die from predation. But fortunately for the hare, it has a self-defense mechanism. When it senses a predator nearby it simply freezes in place, making them nearly invisible. When they do run they have the ability to twist and turn and dodge.
We were grateful to see this furry mammal on our outing and experience a winter white wonder. Till next time.