Arctic hares have the short ears typical of all Arctic animals, making them less susceptible to cold © Sophia Granchinho, Shutterstock
Arctic hares are highly adapted to a life on the tundra. They have the short ears typical of all Arctic animals, making them less susceptible to cold. They also enjoy a thick fur coat. Somewhat rabbitlike in demeanour (also known as jackrabbits) they are found on the barren grounds north of the treeline, from Greenland to northern Alaska across the top of Canada. Their pelage is grey-brown in summer, moulting to snow-white in winter. But, astonishingly, those of the Baffin area stay winter-white all year round, making them highly visible and, surely, even more attractive to predators like Arctic foxes. They are active and sociable creatures, moderately indifferent to contact with people. You might see one hop like a kangaroo, forepaws held in the begging position.
Powerful sharp claws and projecting teeth help them to dig for food under the snow in hard conditions. They enjoy the bark and leaves of dwarf willow. The Inuit take them unenthusiastically for the pot but use the skins for clothing.