Land Mammals

Arctic Hare Lepus arcticus

      image courtesy of:

       image courtesy of:


     Watch a video of an Arctic Hare

The Arctic hare is like the Arctic's rabbit. The Arctic hare looks like a rabbit but they have longer ears, they stand up taller, and they can live in the cold places of the Arctic tundra while the rabbit cannot.

The Arctic hare can survive the frigid cold by their thick coat of fur. They also dig holes under the ground or snow to keep warm and sleep.

They are white in the winter to blend in with the snow, with black ear tips. In the summer they turn grayish brown to blend in with the mud and rocks. However, their legs remain white all year round. The Arctic hare weighs around 4-5.5 kg (9-12 lb) and are 55-70 cm (22-28 in) long.

The Arctic hare can run up to as fast as 40 miles per hour. This really helps them run away from their main predator, the Arctic wolf.

Females give birth to 5 to 8 kittens, called leverets, in June through to July. Hare kittens are left alone all day with the mother visiting during the evening. After approximately ten days baby hares must fend for themselves.

Arctic hares live exclusively on vegetation such as grass, herbs, buds, plant shoots, bark, leaves, and berries. In the summer their main dish are purple saxifrage. The Arctic hare's sense of smell is excellent and can smell twigs under the snow.

They are common throughout Greenland except for the southeast coast, where the winter climate with frequent icing and heavy snowfalls provides unfavorable conditions. Hare populations fluctuate considerably, depending on the winter climate. In favorable periods groups of up to 100 Arctic hares have been spotted in winter. In West Greenland during summer the hare mainly lives inland, often at some height on mountains, and is therefore
rarely seen by visitors. 




Source courtesy of: The Nature and Wildlife Guide to Greenland, Benny Gensbøl (2005) and