The snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus), also called the varying hare, or snowshoe rabbit is a kind of rabbit found in North America. It has the name “snowshoe” because of the large size of its hind feet. The animal’s feet stop it from sinking into the snow when it hops and walks. Its feet also have fur on the soles to defend it from freezing temperatures.
For camouflage, its fur turns white during the winter and rusty brown during the summer. Its flanks are white year-round. The snowshoe hare is also distinguishable by the black tufts of fur on the edge of its ears. Its ears are shorter than those of most other hares.
In summer this creature feeds on plants such as grass, ferns and leaves. In winter it eats twigs, the bark from trees, and plants. But there’s a speciality about these kinds of hares that most people don’t know and this may be shocking.
There is evidence that these hares occasionally feed on dead carcasses of animals such as grouse, loon, other hares and even lynx. This was proved by a paper published in journal Northwestern Naturalist. This documented hares in Yukon’s boreal forest.
The paper was written by Michael Peers, a PhD candidate at the University of Alberta. He studies how the environment affects Snowshoe Hare’s survival and how they adapt to the changes in the environment. The research team has deployed carcasses on several places and set wildlife cameras to monitor them.
Believe it or not… snowshoe #hare eat meat! We found hares scavenging carcasses of hares, grouse and even #lynx! Read about it in our new paper in Northwestern Naturalist and check out the gif below – a hare scavenging a grouse carcasshttps://t.co/VcpK2by2e1 pic.twitter.com/XfrDJfrhFd
— Michael Peers (@MJLPeers) December 13, 2018
Out of the 161 carcasses, they saw that hares scavenged 20. This is a frequent value than they expected. They observed that some hares even defended carcasses from other hares. They observed that the hares even scavenged on Lynx, their main predator.
The researchers say that animals cannot be easily categorized as carnivores or herbivores. Herbivores seem to consume more than what the world thinks.