Snowshoe Hares Grooming and Bathing (How Do They Stay Clean?)

When you wake up in the morning, chances are there is a personal grooming routine you follow such as washing your face and brushing your teeth or a full shower. Being clean and maintaining our appearance makes us feel good and ready to face the day.

It is no different with snowshoe hares. Like with most animals, they spend a considerable amount of time keeping themselves clean. Keep reading as Floofmania explores snowshoe hare hygiene, bathing and grooming!

How Do Snowshoe Hares Clean Themselves?

Snowshoe hares clean themselves by rolling around in the dust. Sounds counterintuitive, right? But for the snowshoe hare, this is the cleaning method of choice.

They take dust baths to rid themselves of parasites that are on their fur, like fleas and mites. Rubbing themselves in the ground helps flick away dry skin flakes and other debris from underneath the fur.

Snowshoe hares also use their tongue to clean themselves, similar to what a cat does. They wash their faces the same way by licking their front paws to make it damp and wiping down their face and ears with them. 

During the day they alternate between licking themselves and napping all while staying alert for any signs of danger.

Do Snowshoe Hares Bathe In Water?

Bathing in water is not something snowshoe hares do. They prefer being on dry ground, hopping along happily on the forest floor.

That’s why it’s hard to believe that snowshoe hares are excellent swimmers. However, they only go into the water due to necessity, jumping into tributaries or ponds as a means to flee from predators. 

How Long Do Snowshoe Hares Spend Grooming Themselves?

Brown snowshoe hare sitting in the grass and cleaning its paw.

Snowshoe hares groom themselves quite a lot during the day because they mainly do two things, napping and cleaning themselves. They lounge quietly in their “forms”, hare-shaped indentations in the snow or ground that was molded by the weight of their body as well as the repetitive dust baths.

Sure, that doesn’t seem like a lot but it is at nightfall when the variety of their activities increases. They also forage, eat, spend time with their partners during the mating season and…well, eat some more.

Dust bathing mainly happens in the summer when fleas and mites are flourishing in the warm weather. During winter, fleas cannot withstand freezing temperatures and either die or become dormant.

In winter, snow also usually covers the ground and prevents any dust-bathing activities. During this time snowshoe hares will limit their self-cleaning routine of licking their fur while hiding quietly in their forms.

Why Is Grooming Important For Snowshoe Hares?

Snowshoe hares are fastidious animals and they don’t spend a lot of their waking hours grooming for nothing. After all, who wants to hop around with debris and fleas on your back? 

Being clean is essential for good health, and this is true for snowshoe hares as well. When the snowshoe hare indulges in a dust bath, the parasites that have hitch-hiked on their soft fur are removed, sparing them from skin irritations and tick-borne diseases.

Licking themselves help in removing the fur that they shed when the seasons change, revealing the coat that allows them to be camouflaged and undetected by predators.

Do Snowshoe Hares Help Groom Each Other?

As solitary animals, snowshoe hares don’t usually groom each other. The only time they are groomed by another is when the mama snowshoe hare cleans her babies, called leverets. 

Leverets are born with their eyes opened, fully furred and can move about by themselves within hours after birth. They probably can get dirty quickly, with various critters and dirt sticking to their fur. 

Are Snowshoe Hares Clean Animals?

Since snowshoe hares allocate a significant amount of time to groom themselves, they most certainly are clean and like being so. When they are clean, they are more comfortable in their forms and not distracted by itchy flea bites and matted fur, and it also helps them stay warm.

For snowshoe hares and most animals, being clean is as essential as eating. Their way of being clean may be different from how we humans do it, but the purpose is the same.

Do Snowshoe Hares Smell Bad?

Leverets don’t have any scent which is a quality that keeps them safe from predators since it is almost impossible to sniff them out. When they grow up to be adults, snowshoe hares will develop a scent.

There seem to be no sources to describe what snowshoe hares smell like. While their cuteness makes them look like they smell like marshmallows and candy, perhaps their scent isn’t so distinct especially if they clean themselves regularly.

Do Snowshoe Hares Really Eat Their Own Poop?

Yes, they do! This must be so confusing after all the talk about snowshoe hares being clean and fastidious. But there is a purpose for this madness.

Snowshoe hares practice coprophagy, a fancy word that means they eat their own poop. When they eat their high-fiber diet of plants and twigs they don’t get all the nutrients right away because of the way their digestive system is designed.

Eating them again after it gets pooped out the first time ensures that all the good stuff is absorbed.

Author: Mitzie C

Mitzie is a writer and animal welfare advocate. Her writing is inspired by her love for her rescue cats, Eddy and Dylan, and her rescue dogs, Cypher, Daegu and Holly. Follow her journey as she discovers her unique voice here in Floofmania and shares her insights on the importance of the animal kingdom.

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