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One of the world’s largest hares, the Arctic hare (Lepus arcticus) has a distinctive, uniformly white summer coat, aside from the tips of each ear, which are black. The thick white fur provides both warmth and camouflage against the Arctic hare’s snowy surroundings. After the spring moult, the fur of southern populations is replaced with a shorter grey-brown fur. More northerly populations also moult into shorter fur, but retain the white colouration year-round. The female Arctic hare is larger than the male, and also begins to moult earlier in spring. The Arctic hare has very thick fur and a relatively large, compact body compared with other hare species. The small size of the ears and other extremities helps to reduce heat loss in cold conditions, while the paws are heavily padded with thick, coarse fur which helps the Arctic hare to walk on the surface of snow without sinking. The well adapted claws and incisors enable the Arctic hare to dig through snow and feed on the plants beneath. Distress calls are made by hare and rabbit species when they are caught by predators, but all other communication is thought to be done by scent marking. The glands which secrete the scent are found underneath the chin and in the groin area.




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