The Varying Hare is one of three species (Black-tailed Jackrabbit and Brush Rabbit are the others) common to the Oregon Coast and Coast Range Mountains. It has a small head and ears, but comparatively large feet. The name stems from the seasonal change in the animal’s coloring. During the warmer months, the hare is a mottled brown gray which allows it to easily blend into dry brush and grass. During the winter, the fur turns solid white to help disguise it in a snow-covered landscape. The fur on its feet also grows longer and courser during the winter, allowing the animal to move rapidly over snow and ice. For this reason, it is often called a “snowshoe hare.”
The Varying Hare feeds on herbs, bark, twigs, conifer needles and buds. During the winter, it will subsist on the woody parts of shrubs and trees, including alder and maple. It is the primary prey animal of the Bobcat, Coyote, Cougar, Great Horned Owl and Red Tail Hawk.
This small mammal can be found throughout the Pacific Northwest and the northern half of North America. The hare prefers wooded and forested areas with a dense understory which provides both food, shelter and camouflage from its numerous predators. It can be found in the southwestern area of Oregon, including the Willamette Valley, the coast and the coastal mountain ranges. The hare doesn’t hibernate so it is common within its habitat all year.