Snowshoe hares are well known for their ability to hide in snowy woodlands that are their homes.
One of their most important adaptations that allow them to hide and blend into their environments is that their fur changes color depending on the season. During winter, they are white and in summer they turn a reddish brown, which is a great camouflage for the dirt and rocks.
However, one part of the snowshoe hare remains the same color despite the changing seasons. That is the tips of his ears, which are black.
The snowshoe hare has very large hind legs, a lot of fur and larger toes than other rabbits or hares. These help them to walk on snow, and give them their name too!
These animals are also nocturnal, which means they come out to look for food during dawn and dusk.
One of the main things lacking in the coniferous forests is adequate nutrition. Most of the edible plants and barks are buried under heaps of snow. So the snowshoe hare has adapted by being able to digest almost anything, even difficult plant material.
Their digestive system plays a major role here, particularly their hindgut which does the majority of the digesting, and a type of stomach bacteria which can easily digest plant carbohydrates. They also have a very fast digestive system.
During the long winter months of the coniferous forests, the snowshoe hare conserves its energy by doing nothing more than eating and hiding. They know which plants give them the most energy and protein, so they are very selective in what they eat.
These animals are so well adapted to their environments that they are among the most widely distributed mammals in North America; they rarely starve and do not lose any weight during winter. The snowshoe hares also have the same amount of muscle mass in winter that they do during the summer.