Snowshoe Hare

Lepus americanus

Snowshoe hares are residents of middle and higher elevation habitats within the Klamath range, southern Cascades, and the Sierra Nevada south to Mariposa, Mono, and Madera counties. Snowshoes have been reported also from the Warner Mountains in northeastern California. In California, they are often found near montane riparian vegetation, in young or dense stands of conifers (especially firs, lodgepole pines, and subalpine forests), and in chaparral. They often seek cover at the base of trees where branches droop to the ground. The summer diet of snowshoe hares consists largely of grasses, forbs, and other succulent plants. In winter, when much of the ground is generally covered in snow, they primarily consume conifer needles and the leaves of evergreen shrubs.

Adult snowshoe hares weigh about 2-5 pounds. Snowshoe hares are larger, have longer legs, and longer ears than cottontail and brush rabbits. In winter, adult snowshoe hares generally have a mostly or completely white coat. In summer, snowshoe hare coats are generally rusty brown. In contrast to those of the smaller cottontails, the tail is small with a white to grayish-brown underside.

The young of snowshoe hares are precocial (fully furred and well developed at birth). In California, snowshoe hares are a Species of Special Concern, and DFW would like to hear the details of your snowshoe sightings.


Snowshoe hare, Brush Rabbit, Cottontail or Jackrabbit? Determine the difference.

a brown rabbit on rocky ground
Snowshoe Hare, summer. ©Robert Potts - CA Academy of Sciences, all rights reserved.
a white rabbit in the snow
Snowshoe Hare, winter. Photo by D. Gordon E. Robertson (CC(opens in new tab)).

Wildlife Branch - Wildlife Diversity Program
1010 Riverside Parkway, West Sacramento, CA 95605