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Text: Ukaliq the Arctic Hare.
Illustration of an Arctic hare paw print.
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Text: About the Arctic Hare. Photo: An Arctic hare. Text: Heritage, History and Art. Photo: A carving in walrus ivory of an Arctic hare. Text: Studying the Arctic Hare. Photo: David Gray looking through a spotting scope. Text: Games and Activities. Photo: An Arctic hare in mid-hop.
Texts: "About the Arctic Hare", and "Ukaliq" in Inuktitut syllabics. Photos: An Arctic hare and a maple leaf.

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Characteristics

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Individual Behaviour

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Habitat

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Social Behaviour

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Range

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Breeding Behaviour

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Populations

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Life Cycle

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Eat and Be Eaten

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Naming & Classifying

Text: "Inuit Stories" in English and Inuktitut.

Light and Dark

From those times, when everybody lived promiscuously, when sometimes they were people and other times animals, and there was no difference, a talk between a fox and a hare has been remembered:

"Taaq, taaq, taaq! 'Darkness, darkness, darkness!'" said the fox. It liked the dark when it was going out to steal from the caches of the humans.

"Ulluq, ulluq, ulluq! 'Day, day, day!'" said the hare. It wanted the light of day so that it could find a place to feed.

And suddenly it became as the hare wished it to be; its words were the most powerful. Day came and replaced night, and when night had gone day came again. And light and dark took turns with each other.

-Rasmussen 1931

 

 

 

 

 

 

Habitat

Climate

The habitat of the Arctic hare (Lepus arcticus) is generally restricted to treeless areas, north of the treeline in the tundra of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, and in the treeless barrens in the mountains of Newfoundland and Labrador. Hares survive best in areas without deep snow cover. Vegetation in the form of willows, shrubs, flowering plants and grasses is a requirement. Hares seem to prefer drier areas, avoiding wet meadows on the tundra.

Image 1) A view of Ellesmere Island, Nunavut.

Enlarge image.Arctic hare habitat on Ellesmere Island in Nunavut.

 
Image 2) A view of Bathurst Island, Nunavut.

Enlarge image.Arctic hare habitat in Polar Bear Pass on Bathurst Island in Nunavut.

     
Image 3) A view of Rabbit Island, near Rankin Inlet in Nunavut.

Enlarge image.Arctic hare habitat on Rabbit Island, near Rankin Inlet in Nunavut.

 
Image 4) An Arctic hare in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Enlarge image.An Arctic hare in habitat typical of its range in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Climate

The climate of the northern islands is the most severe of that encountered by Arctic hares.

  • In the summer of the Far North, June, July and August are characterized by snow-free ground, growth and flowering of plants, the presence of breeding birds, 24 hours of sunlight and average temperatures of 0°C to 5°C (32°F to 41°F).
     
  • September and October bring the autumnal end of 24 hours of sunlight; the first snow cover; freeze-up of ponds, lakes and the Arctic ocean; and temperatures of -30°C to 0°C (-22°F to 32°F).
     
  • The sun sets in early November and remains below the horizon for 3 months.
     
  • Wintry December-to-March features more snow, lots of wind, and temperatures of -40°C to -30°C (-40°F to -22°F). The sun rises again in early February, and the number of hours it is above the horizon increases steadily through March.
     
  • April sees the spring start of 24 hours of sunlight, but temperatures remain low, averaging -25°C (-13°F). In May the temperature rises above freezing, and snowmelt begins.

In the more southerly parts of the Arctic hare's range, the winters are shorter but still cold, and the hours of summer daylight and winter darkness decrease with descending latitude. In all areas the ground is snow-covered for part of the year.

 

   

 

   

 

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Last update: 2013-01-29
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Image credits: 1) David R. Gray. 2) David R. Gray. 3) David R. Gray. 4) Con Finlay.