Alaskan Hare, Lepus othus
The Alaskan hare (Lepus othus), or the tundra hare, can be found on the Alaskan Peninsula and in western areas of Alaska. This species prefers to reside in rocky areas in their tundra habitat, resting in open areas rather than in burrows. It is most closely related to the mountain hare and the Arctic hare.
Members of this species reach an average weight between 1.6 and 2.2 feet, with hind feet that reach a length of 7.9 inches. The hind feet are thought to help the hares move quickly and easily over snow and ice, but they can also be used as defense against predators. Their ears are shorter than those of most other hares, which helps to conserve heat in their cold environment. During the winter, their coat is white, but during warmer months their coat turns greyish brown.
The Alaskan hare is solitary in nature and only gathers during the breeding season, which lasts between the months of April and May. One litter is born per year holding four to eight leverets, which are born with the eyes open and can move around shortly after birth. It is thought that this species feeds on the same vegetation that arctic hares consume, including sedges, grasses, dwarf willow, and health plants.
The total population of the Alaskan hare is thought to be stable, although there may be some fluctuations in population levels. Populations located in southern areas may be threatened by habitat loss and climate fluctuations, but no main threats are known. More information is needed about this species before its taxonomic status can be confirmed. Currently, the Alaskan hare appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Least Concern.”
Image Caption: Arctic Hare. Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Wikipedia