Mountain Hare

The mountain hare (Lepus timidus) is a hare, which is largely adapted to polar and mountainous habitats. It is distributed from Scandinavia to eastern Siberia. There are isolated populations in the Alps, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Hokkaidō.

The fur is brown in summer in preparation for winter this species sheds into a white (or largely white) wool coat. The Irish race (Lepus timidus hibernicus) stays brown all year and only rarely do individuals develop a white coat. In Scandinavia, the hare turns completely white.

Alternative common names include blue hare, tundra hare, variable hare, white hare, alpine hare and Irish hare.

The Mountain Hare is the provincial animal of Medelpad in Sweden.
In northern parts of Finland and Sweden, the mountain hare and the European Hare compete for habitat. The European Hare is usually able to drive away the Mountain Hare but is less adapted for living in snowy regions. Its feet are smaller and its winter fur is a mixture of white and brown. The winter fur is actually a very good camouflage in the coastal regions of Finland where the snow covers the shrubs but for a short time. The mountain hare is better adapted for the snowier conditions of the inland areas.

The arctic hare (Lepus arcticus) was once considered a subspecies of the mountain hare, but it is now regarded as a separate species. Similarly, some scientists believe that the Irish hare should be regarded as separate.