Snowshoe hare photo, Denali National Park, Alaska.

Snowshoe hare, Denali National Park, Alaska.

Hey Folks

This year seems to be the year for snowshoe hares – they’re all over Denali National Park. What was interesting is that I made 2 relatively short trips to Denali National Park this year, one in late August and one in mid-September, and both trips I saw numerous snowshoe hares, but they weren’t at all in the same areas. In August I saw an awful lot of hares in the first 15 miles of the road into the park, particularly near Savage River. In September, we didn’t see any bunnies there, despite my assurances to my parents that would – well, we did see one, he was being carried across a gravel bar by a lynx, but other than that one, we didn’t see any. We did, however, see a ton of snowshoe hares in and around the Teklanika campground. A friend of mine was in there a week or so later and saw a lynx and her 3 kittens in the area, so I’m sure the snowshoe hare population won’t be high for too long. 🙂

Snoeshoe hares are very cool. They have these H-U-G-E feet, as you can tell from this photo. These large feet help them cross deep snow, the greater surface area helping to keep them from sinking and floundering in the snow, much like snowshoes do for people – not something you want to have happen when almost every animal you’re likely to run into is a possible predator. Snowshoe hares are hunted by lynx, their primary predator, but also wolves, foxes, coyotes, wolverine, raptors such as owls, hawks and eagles. It’s a tough gig being a snowshoe hare.

Also, the coat of the hare will turn white in the winter, only the tips of their ears staying dark – I’m not sure why that is so. Because of this change in coat, they’re also known as the varying hare. The white coat helps provide some camouflage in the winter, melting their shape into the snowy backgrounds of the forest. It usually takes around 10 weeks for the coat to change color. Hopefully this winter I’ll get some nice images of snowshoe hares in their winter coats, until then, photos like this one will have to do.



PS: You can see more photos from Denali here.

5 thoughts on “Snowshoe hare photo, Denali National Park, Alaska.

  1. MaryBeth Lunsford

    Hares DO have huge feet. That’s a cool picture. Great profile! I do know that hares are born with hair, & rabbits are born with no hair. It’s wild about the color change in the coats , too. Kind of like arctic foxes.

  2. Carl Donohue

    Hey MaryBeth

    Thanks again for the note – that’s true, rabbits are born without hair. I grew up in Australia, and we have an inordinate number of rabbits there – and adult rabbits will kill and even eat baby hares, when they find them. The hare in Australia aren’t snowshoe hares, but closer to an American Jackrabbit. They don’t dig burrows, but nest in the grass on the ground – so they’re more susceptible to predation.



  3. Mark

    I always thought it would be cool to do a story on the things we invent to mimic nature – ie. snowshoes, etc. Killer light on this guy Carl, and great angle – what’s not to like.

  4. Carl Donohue

    Hey Mark

    Ya know, that’s a great idea .. I’ve often pondered it too, maybe an article should be forthcoming.
    Regarding the light, I shot a group of these guys for about 20 minutes, and it was dull overcast, very drab light. I could shoot from any angle, and get no shadows, etc, but I stayed on the sunny side, “just in case” .. sure enough, for about 10 sconds, the light popped out – I overexposed maybe 2 frames, corrected it, adn got another 2 before the light was flat again. I was lying flat on the ground, hand holding my camera/lens for this.



  5. Rahab Klingensmith

    Lovely and cuddelly, and usually “Fat”….you’d think with all their romping around and such, they would be quite thin……thinner <3 Bunnies……..I just love Snow shoe bunny rabbits. Big feet, and round plushy tails. Although , where are the white ones……beautiful in color they are….blend with the snow drifts, and ice-cycles….bunnies….love them

    Merry Christmas <3

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