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Arctic Hare

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The Arctic hare (Lepus arcticus) is a social animal that lives in the frigid tundra of North America, Newfoundland, and Greenland. These hares often congregate in groups of up to 200 individuals. They hop at great speeds on their large, powerful hind legs, in a kangaroo-like fashion. The female is called a doe, the male is called a buck, and the baby hare is called a leveret. The young are born open-eyed and furry. Most hares live for about a year in the wild.

Predators: This mammal is hunted by wolves and people. The young are preyed upon by Arctic foxes, gyrfalcons, snowy owls, and ermine (short-tailed weasels).

Anatomy: Arctic hares are roughly 21 inches (53 cm) long; the tail is 2 inches (5 cm) long. These hares weigh about 12 pounds (5.5 kg). They have very big, powerful hind legs and huge hind feet which they use to leap on the snow. They have relatively short ears (which minimizes their heat loss). In the extreme north, Arctic hares stay white all year; in areas where the snow melts, their fur changes to a gray-brown coat in the summer.

Diet: Arctic hares are herbivores (plant-eaters). They eat mostly willow leaves, bark, and shoots. They also eat other tree leaves, grasses, and herbs.

Classification: Kingdom Animalia (animals), Phylum Chordata (having a notochord), Class Mammalia (mammals), Order Lagomorpha (rabbits, hares, and pikas), Family Leporidae (rabbits and hares), Genus Lepus, Species L. arcticus.

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