The snowshoe hare is mainly nocturnal and crepuscular, being active at twilight and at night, and sheltering under logs or bushes during the day. Its daily movements cover about 1.6 hectares, but it may have to travel greater distances when food is scarce (5).
The snowshoe hare is herbivorous, and its diet varies depending on the season (2). In the summer, this species’ diet consists mainly of leafy vegetation such as grasses, sedges, ferns and forbs (2) (5), although twigs and bark are also consumed (5). Clover and dandelions are eaten when available. In the winter the diet is more varied and depends on local plant composition, consisting mostly of woody browse and including plants such as blueberry, maple, balsam fir, birch, spruce and willow (2).
The snowshoe hare is a social species and has been spotted in groups of up to 25 individuals in one forest clearing at night, unlike most other Lepus species which are solitary until the mating season (5).
The breeding season of the snowshoe hare begins in mid-March and lasts until September, and the female hare may have up to four litters per year. Although the average litter size is approximately four young, as many as ten young have been recorded (5), and the first litter of the year is generally smaller than subsequent ones (2). The gestation period is usually 36 days (5), but ranges from 34 to 40 days (2).
Young snowshoe hares, known as leverets, are born in nests which consist of shallow depressions dug into the ground. They are born with a full coat of fur and with their eyes open (2) (5), and remain concealed within dense vegetation (5). The female snowshoe hare visits the leverets to nurse them (5).
The main predators of the snowshoe hare are the lynx (Lynx canadensis), coyote (Canis latrans) and fisher (Martes pennanti). However, other predators are numerous and include the bobcat (Lynx rufus), wolf (Canis lupus), red fox (Vulpes vulpes), black bear (Ursus americanus), wolverine (Gulo gulo), barred owl (Strix varis) and raven (Corvus corax) (2).