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Young Snowshoe Hares Dispersing

Snowshoe Hares have up to four litters a summer (females mate within 24 hours of giving birth).  Their litters range from two to nine young (leverets), with larger litters the further north you go. Unlike cottontails, the Snowshoe Hare gives birth to precocious young – their eyes open shortly after birth, they have a dense coat of fur, and they are able to weakly move about within 30 minutes.

The female leaves the nest once she’s through giving birth, and returns once a day to nurse her young.  By the fourth day, the young hares scatter from the nest.  They reassemble at the same time each evening and their mother appears and nurses them for five to ten minutes.  She then leaves and the young disperse. This behavior continues for about a month, until the young are fully weaned.  (Thanks to Virginia Barlow and Wendell for photo op.)

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2 responses

  1. Kathie Fiveash

    It is so interesting that the mother only nurses her young once a day. I read once that the mother can actually sort of pump her milk out. The once a day rule must make it harder for predators to find the form where they nest. I think they do not have a burrow – just a sort of hollow lined with grass. And then that the babies disperse and come back at the right time each day! I thought that snowshoe hares were more northerly – we have lots here on Isle au Haut, but no cottontails. But I guess they coexist with cottontails in VT and MA?

    August 21, 2019 at 9:04 am

  2. Alice

    Her milk must have a high fat & water ratio. They grow up quickly.

    August 21, 2019 at 11:13 am

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