Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Hares of March

This snowy March makes me think of hares. Alice's March Hare. The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Now if you haven't seen Wallace & Gromit, you won't know about The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. There is a key lesson about rabbits and hares in this story of rabbits terrorizing an English village by eating their prized vegetables. Wallace & Gromit use their BV (bunny vac) 6000 to suck up (humanely) all the bunnies (at 125 rmp - rabbits per minute) at Lady Tottington's estate. Unknowingly they also suck in a toupee belonging to Victor, the Lady's (uninvited) suitor.

Victor quietly but urgently tells Wallace that he wants ... "toupee." Wallace responds by noting that they take check or cash. Victor, a bit more hoarsely, repeats his plea, saying "my hair is in your machine." To which Wallace replies, "oh no, it's only rabbits in there. The hare I think you'll find is a much larger mammal." And there is the lesson, which brings me to the snowshoe hare.

The snowshoe hare is larger than the native New England cottontail and introduced Eastern cottontail. Their tracks are distinctly different as you can readily see in winter. These snowshore hare tracks show their large hind snowshoe feet that land in front of the front feet. Their front feet land staggered from each other.

The hare spends most of the winter under young dense white pine and hardwoods. They venture out to browse on nearby young hardwoods, neatly clipping twigs, buds, and bark of birch, aspen, and willow (deer, which lack upper incisors, leave a ragged tear to the twigs that they browse).

The snowshoe hare turns white in winter and then back to a soft brown. Cottontails remain brown year-round. Mating season gets underway soon, a time when the males and females do some jumping about and males can be aggressive toward each other, perhaps the irrational exuberance that led to the idea "mad as a March hare."

1 comment:

  1. What a treat! Bull pines and lichens, bulbuls and MAD Cows--I've learned something new from every one of your posts.

    I want to keep tuned for the next tidbit; please syndicate your blog so I can subscribe.