Snowshoe Hare

Algonquin Park, 2007

Algonquin Park, 2007

This long-eared visitor seemed used to people. He/she regularly visited our camp-site on Pog lake at the end of August (probably looking for hand-outs). I have fond memories of camping on Pog Lake with family and family friends while growing up. This particular camp-site backed onto a wetland and there seemed to be a great diversity of wildlife in this section of the park. I remember watching two red squirrels during the day. One was an industrious red squirrel and the other one was an opportunistic, lazy red squirrel. The industrious one tirelessly gathered cones, nipping branches to get the cones to fall and then collecting them from the forest floor. The other, “lazy” squirrel would wait until the hard-working squirrel was up in the tree nipping branches to seize an opportunity to collect the cones that the other one had nipped off. It was amusing to watch the hard-working squirrel return from his efforts and puzzle over why many of his cones had disappeared. I remember alot of frustrated churring coming from the industrious squirrel. When these two characters finally went to sleep around dusk, we saw another creature appear, gliding across the dark camp-site to land on the same tree that the red squirrels had shared during the daylight hours. It was a flying squirrel! We heard it scuttle around to the back-side of the tree (they do this to avoid owls that might be swooping in after them) and we admired how the two species of squirrels shared the same niche but at different times of the day to avoid competition. Nature is marvelous.

A Snowshoe Hare

Snowshoe Hare in Winter Colouring (Luther Marsh, March 2014)

Snowshoe Hare Browse

Rabbit Chews and Droppings (Luther Marsh, January 2014)

Rabbit Chews and Droppings (Luther Marsh, January 2014)

Rabbit Chew on Apple? (Luther Marsh, January 2014)

Rabbit Chew on Apple? (Luther Marsh, January 2014)

January 2015 223

Snowshoe Hare (45 degree angle nip) (Algonquin Park, January 2015)

Lagomorphs (rabbits and hares) tend to nip branches and twigs at a 45 degree angle.

Snowshoe Hare Scat

Snowshoe Hare Scat (Algonquin park, January 2015)

Snowshoe Hare Scat (Algonquin park, January 2015)

Rabbits and hares ingest their droppings to better digest plant materials.  Basically, they recycle their own poop.  This is called “coprophagy”.  Rabbits release one dropping at a time.  An accumulation of pellets in one place indicates that the hare or rabbit spent some length of time there.  Scat may play a role in territorial communication.

Hare Tracks

Hare Track (Allan Park, November 2014)

Hare Track (Allan Park, November 2014)

I took this photo to help me remember the characteristics of a rabbit track.  Notice a “leading” toe at the front of the track.  This helps to define a “J” or checkmark shape in the track (the “J” is resting horizontally).  When figuring out whether this is a right or a left foot, you can use your hand to help you.  Your middle finger represents the leading toe.  Rabbits most often show 4 toes in the track (since the 5th toe rarely registers in the track and is reduced).  In the above photo, my right hand best matches the track.  This is a front, right foot.

Snowshoe Hare Track (Algonquin Park, February 2015)

Snowshoe Hare Track (Algonquin Park, February 2015)

During a week-long tracking course in Algonquin Park, I learned that snowshoe hares create well-used pathways of densely packed snow to ease travel. I tried to pick up a clump of snowshoe hare trail and it was like a chunk of cement. Other animals, like fishers seem to take advantage of these trails for hunting purposes and for travel.

The next photo is a tracking mystery…

Snowshoe Hare Tracks, Luther Marsh, 2013

Snowshoe Hare Tracks, Luther Marsh, 2013

How did the hare manage to make those tracks?

 

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