Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America
January 29, 2000 - Issue 02

Lynx and Hare
By Vicki Lockard

Did you know the population of the lynx is directly related to the population of the snowshoe hare? Here's some interesting information about both of these arctic mammals.

Snowshoe Hare

Snowshoe Hare in Summer

Snowshoe Hare in Winter

Physical Characteristics:

The snowshoe hare is a medium-sized rabbit. Its feet are long (11-15 cm). With the toes spread apart, and the soles of their feet furry, the snowshoe hare is adapted for traveling in the snow. The snowshoe hare is noted for changing color; in the winter the snowshoe is almost all white, and in the winter the fur color changes to a grayish-brown. The males are smaller than the females which is characteristic of hares and rabbits. The snowshoe can run up to 27 mph and can jump 10 feet in one hop.

Habitat and Daily Life:

The snowshoe hare is found in northern sections of the United States and most of Canada. They live in tundra, taiga, open fields, forests, and along riversides and swamps. They are typically solitary but live in high densities of up to 10,000 per square mile. They are most active just before sunset to just after sunrise.
The speedy snowshoe is an expert in fleeing from a wolf, bobcat, lynx, or other predator. Young, when alerted of danger, will freeze so that they do not bring attention to themselves. Adults will run; as the predator pursues the hare it will quickly change direction to throw the hungry animal off balance. Hares are also good swimmers and will jump in the water to make an escape if the opportunity is given.


Breeding season begins in mid-March and end in August. Hares can have up to four litters in a single season with an average of two to four offspring, although they can have up to eight. The young are born fully furred.


Physical Characteristics

The lynx's short, compact body is insulated with thick, buff-colored underfur and long, gray guard hairs that give it a silver sheen along its back. The tail is small and black-tipped. Mature male lynx weigh between ten to fifteen kilograms. Females are slightly smaller
In winter, long legs and unusually large, well-furred, snowshoe-like feet allow the lynx to move over deep snow with ease.

Habitat and Daily Life

Lynx inhabit the entire Yukon with the exception of the arctic coastal plain. During population highs, they are scattered in fairly large numbers over the territory, occupying coniferous-deciduous forests of white spruce, lodgepole pine, aspen, and willow.
Because lynx are so dependent on snowshoe hare, fluctuations in hare populations cause lynx numbers to rise and fall. When hare populations crash, lynx numbers go through a three to five year low period. Although they continue to have the same-sized home range, fewer lynx are able to occupy their home ranges when hares are scarce. Those who leave may starve or end up in traps.

Hunting and Feeding

To conserve energy in cold temperatures, lynx spend much of their time bedded down. They also save energy by hunting using a stationary ambush tactic. When a hare passes by, the lynx leaps from its hiding place. After a short chase of not more than ten bounds, it pins the hare under its forepaws and kills it instantly with a bite to the neck. Another hunting method involves walking in a zigzag pattern through areas where hares are present in an attempt to flush them out of hiding.


Breeding takes place in the winter. After a gestation period of about sixty-nine days, the female lynx will have one to four kittens in May or June. The cubs open their eyes by two weeks and by six weeks they are walking around and are eating some meat. By the young age of ten months, the lynx sets of on its own. The lynx has been known to live for more than twenty years.

Learn more about the animals of the Arctic at this site:
Arctic Animals

Here are some Arctic animals for you to print and color:

Polar Bear




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