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Snowshoe Hare Runs

2-23-15 hare run IMG_1978In northern New England we have hare “runs” rather than rabbit runs, but they serve the same purpose. They are well-maintained escape routes, and the snowshoe hare’s life depends on the hare’s knowing every twist and turn they take.

During the summer, hares keep their runs free of branches by pruning them back. In the winter, hares also have to prune as the snow gets higher and the runs encounter more branches. They also spend a lot of time and energy packing down the snow on these runways so they will have a clear, hard surface on which, if it’s necessary, they can make their escape. This runway construction is done by hopping up and down, progressing slowly, inch by inch. It looks like many hares have passed by, but it’s usually done by one individual and runs through its territory. Snowshoe hares are nocturnal, but during long or heavy snowstorms, they will come out and pack their run during the day.

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9 responses

  1. Elizabeth Christie

    maybe I could train them to build labyrinths????

    xox e

    February 23, 2015 at 8:56 am

  2. This is so interesting. Can you say more? How long might a run be? What’s at the end(s) of a run? In other words, how does the hare ultimately escape?
    Thanks for another glimpse into what’s going on out there, as I sit, safe and comfortable, here by my wood stove!

    February 23, 2015 at 9:07 am

    • Unfortunately, I don’t have the information you want at the tip of my fingers, and am under a deadline for a couple of writing projects, but I will try to get back to you eventually!

      February 23, 2015 at 10:00 am

      • No rush! I’m just curious…

        February 23, 2015 at 11:16 am

  3. Wow! I always thought these trails were made by multiple rabbits, juts busy going back and forth. How cool it would be to see a hare carefully packing down the snow and making this runway. Amazing! Thanks Mary

    February 23, 2015 at 1:20 pm

  4. Kathie Fiveash

    This is fascinating! Who knew? Did you learn this from trackers? Thanks, Mary.

    February 23, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    • No, I read it in one of my favorite resources books, Kathie, The Natural History of Canadian Mammals by Donna Naughton.

      February 23, 2015 at 3:30 pm

  5. Such interesting survival behavior… what is the scale, widthwise?

    February 23, 2015 at 5:48 pm

  6. Kathie Fiveash

    Thanks Mary!! I just bought it (used)! Can’t wait. I bet it will have a lot about Maine mammals.

    February 23, 2015 at 5:48 pm

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