HARE, SNOWSHOE

Under Construction May 2011

SHOWSHOE HARE

Lepus americanus

GUARD HAIR

Length: 30-40mm (Adorjan and Kolenosky 1969), 30-48mm (Moore et al 1974), 20-25mm (ASM #1)

Diameter Range: One hair was measured at regular increments from the root to the tip; the basal region was measured at 30 microns, center of the hair at its widest ranged between 87.5-100 microns, then gradually tapered to the tip with widths ranging between 50-75 microns (ASM #1) 58-95 microns (Moore et al 1974)

Medullary Index: 0.8 ave along the hair (ASM #1)

Medulla: Multiserial ladder (corn cob appearance). The cells are closely spaced and hockey puck shaped. Where the hair is at its widest, a maximum of 6 rows of ladder-like cells is present. In narrower regions of the hair 4 rows of cells can be seen. Each cell is hockey puck shaped with a dark air pocket above and below.

Color: Gray base with brown middle, then 1-3mm yellowish brown band and a 1mm dark tip (Moore et al 1974). Reddish in the tip, but pigmentation appears absent throughout the remainder of the hair. (ASM #1) 

Scales:  At base, jagged toothlike turning into long V-shaped chevrons in the middle and closely spaced wide scales with smooth edges at the tip.

UNDERFUR

Length: 15-20mm (ASM #1)

Diameter Range: 17.5-20 microns (ASM #1)

Medullary Index: 0.5 ave (ASM #1)

Medulla: Uniserial ladder with hockey puck shaped cells that are irregularly spaced apart.

Color: Transparent

Scales: Stacked crowns

Macro Qualities: 14.3 – 20.5” long (Forsyth 1999). Average 18-20” summer coat is yellowish to grayish brown with white underparts, and tail is brown on top.  Winter pelage is white with gray underfur and dark tips on the ears (ADF&G 2008).  When Bacharach talks about rabbit pelts, he says the sides and bellies are thin and tend to tear. Rabbits are sometimes called coneys. Hares are larger than rabbits but their fur is thinner. Low “serviceability” (Bachrach 1953)  Underfur gray near the base, the bottom third or quarter of the hair.  The shape of the guard hairs is very obviously wider at the tip than at the base, and this might contribute to its “sheddy” issue? Guard hairs may seem banded when the color is changing? (ASM # 1 2009).  Winter hairs white except near base where they are slate colored, summer hairs are light brown with a black tip.  Underfur has a light gray color near the base and fawn near the tip  (Adorjan and Kolenosky 1969).

Cultures:

Notes: ASM #1 is “summer phase” from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game courtesy of Kristin Romanoff.  ASM #2 is from the Memeluk fur store in Juneau.  European rabbits Oryctolagus cuniculus becoming more common in urban and suburban areas recently?  There are no arctic hare in Alaska (Forsyth 1999).

Troubleshooting:  Might be challenging to distinguish from Lepus europaeus (European hare of Jack Rabbit) and Sylvilagus floridanus (the cottontail rabbit)  although color seems helpful and the edges of the scales near the tip may be rougher in the jack rabbit and cottontail.  Jack rabbit hairs are black, except possibly for a 5mm fawn band near the base.  Cottontails perhaps have a dark grey color on guard hairs with a black band near the base area, and secondary guard hairs with a dark gray color and 5mm long light brown band present.  Top of hair is black and hairs from underside of body are white. (Adorjan and Kolenosky 1969)  Seems like distinguishing our hares from other rabbits might have a clue in the scale pattern shown with extremely elongated petal shapes in the lower to mid shaft that look almost like longitudinal striations parallel to the edges of the hair shaft?  Scale margins almost parallel to the edges of the hair shaft?  Samet (1950) reports that hares shed often and their back fur mats easily.

Range: Statewide except for the lower Kuskokwim Delta and the Alaska Peninsula.  In the past, they were rare north of the Brooks Range.(ADF&G 2008)  Most of Alaska except Kenai Peninsula and North Slope? (Rearden 1981)

Names: Order Lagomorpha (the lagomorphs)  Hares are often called rabbits, but hares are born with fur and are able to hops around much sooner than rabbits.  Snowshoe hare is also called the varying hare.  Baby hares are called leverets (ADF&G 2008) 

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