Are Snowshoe Hares Pests? How Do I Repel Them From My Yard and Property?

Snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus) are animals that change their color depending on the season and are found in the northern parts of the United States and Canada. They are known to be herbivores who eat different types of vegetation including succulents, twigs, and tree bark.

These fluffy creatures are truly fascinating animals but some people might consider their behavior and presence a nuisance. But can they be really considered pests?

Join us as we discuss these concerns and some possible solutions here on Floofmania. Let’s get started!

Are Snowshoe Hares Pests? 

Snowshoe hares are generally harmless but they are considered pests in young forest plantations because of their herbivore diet. These fluffy animals like to eat from trees, especially in the winter and this causes severe damage to the tree seedlings.

They can also be a nuisance to your yard if you have a garden or a few plants around your house. There are a few ways they can cause damage to plants:

  • Feeding on branches and tree seedling tops
  • Debarking trees or young saplings with their sharp incisors
  • Eating leaves or other parts of plants they can reach

These mammals also have their favorite food. Here are some examples of what they like to eat according to the season:

Spring and SummerFall and Winter
CloverAspen
FernsBuds
Garden PlantsConifers
GrassTree bark
SucculentsTree branches

Check out this video of a snowshoe hare munching on pine needles in the winter.

Is It Bad To Have A Snowshoe Hare In Your Yard?

This question is tricky because it all depends on the situation. If you have plants you cherish in your yard, it may be a bad idea to have them roaming around. Snowshoe hares can cause significant damage to your plants as they turn them into their meals. 

However, take note that if you do not have a lot of plants in your yard, you won’t have much problem with these sneaky fellas.

Snowshoe Hares Don’t Damage Buildings

So far, there have been no reports of snowshoe hares damaging the structure of buildings or houses. What you might be worried about is the damage these fellas can bring to your landscape or garden plants.

A hungry snowshoe hare will always try to find food. If you live in a state where they can be found and their favorite plants to eat are within your yard, you can expect one hopping around, nibbling on your plants.

Do Snowshoe Hares Carry Diseases?

Snowshoe hares do carry diseases. Because they live in the wild, they are more prone to catching disease-causing bacteria, viruses, or parasites

When snowshoe hares are at their peak population, diseases have a higher chance of spreading. This is because more snowshoe hares mean more hosts for disease-causing organisms. Higher populations also mean less food supply, making them weaker and more vulnerable to illnesses.

Here are a few known diseases and disease-causing organisms carried by snowshoe hares:

DiseaseInformationCan it spread to humans?Can it spread to other animals?
Tapeworm cystThis is caused by a parasite called tapeworm. Snowshoe hares get infected by eating plants with the parasite’s eggs.No.Yes, by eating raw, infected snowshoe hare meat.
TularemiaIt is a disease caused by a bacterium that transfers from an infected snowshoe hare through ticks. It can cause the hare to be slow and have enlarged organs.Yes, by contact with an infected animal’s fluids into a cut on the skin or a bite from an infected insect.Yes, by biting or consuming an infected snowshoe hare’s organs.
Snowshoe hare virusIt is a virus that can cause flu-like symptoms in people, including an increase in white blood cells and protein, and encephalitis-type symptoms. This is transmitted through mosquitos.Yes, but it is rare.Yes.

Can Snowshoe Hares Be Dangerous To Pets?

Snowshoe hares can be dangerous to pets. The reason for this is that they carry diseases that can be spread to other animals, including your pets. 

As mentioned above, Tularemia is a disease that can be transferred to other animals. This disease can be fatal for dogs and cats so, it is better to prevent them from being near or in contact with a snowshoe hare.

Should I Try And Get Rid Of A Snowshoe Hare?

If you suspect that a snowshoe hare is sick, it might be a good idea to either repel them or stay away. The presence of ticks or unusual behavior like being slow-moving can be a sign that they are ill.

If you have plants that you don’t want to be damaged, repelling snowshoe hares is also a good idea. As mentioned, snowshoe hares love eating plants and if your plants are on their list of favorites, those can be targeted for a yummy meal or snack.

How Can I Get Rid Of A Snowshoe Hare On My Property?

There are a few ways to get rid of a snowshoe hare from your property. Some of them are quite simple and easy to do. But don’t worry as these practices won’t require you to harm these little fellas. After all, they are an important part of our ecosystem.

The most effective way is to prevent them from coming in. One way to do this is by minimizing plants that can attract snowshoe hares. Having less vegetation from which these fluffy animals can get both food and cover can reduce the chances of having them in your yard.

Another possible solution is to install rabbit or hare-proof fences around your property. Using a wire mesh that is at least 3 feet high and 6 inches buried underground is a good idea. The good thing is, snowshoe hares do not burrow or dig like rabbits.

Can You Repel Snowshoe Hares With Smells?

Yes. You can repel snowshoe hares with smells. One of the ways to do this is by mimicking the smell of their predators like foxes, lynxes, and wolverines. Once they detect the scent of their predators, these fluffy animals will likely turn away to escape.

Here are some things you can use:

  • Wild animal (lynx, bobcat, wolf, coyote, fox, and wolverine) urine 
  • Lynx and bobcat feces
  • Vinegar
  • Epsom salts
  • Hot pepper
  • Garlic 
  • Ammonia
  • Irish Spring soap
  • Castor oil

Some of these materials are used in repelling rabbits and may also be effective in keeping their snowshoe hare relatives away. But the most effective ones we recommend for snowshoe hares are the urine and feces of their predators.

Can You Repel Snowshoe Hares With Noises?

Snowshoe hares, like their rabbit relatives, are very shy animals. They also have very sensitive ears and an excellent sense of hearing. So, it is likely possible to repel them with noises. Loud sounds like banging on pots and pans, or noises that their predators make might do the trick.

Can You Repel Snowshoe Hares With Lights or A Scarecrow?

Even though snowshoe hares are nocturnal and crepuscular, they are also active during the day, especially when it is their breeding season. So, it is likely that lights will not repel these fluffy animals.

On the other hand, these fellas are shy and are usually wary of humans. So, using a scarecrow to scare them off may be possible but it is not guaranteed. You might even do a better job than a scarecrow.

You can also try decoy predators. Try placing a fake owl or fox in your yard and try to move them around every once in a while.

Can You Keep Snowshoe Hares Away With Pets?

Yes. You can keep snowshoe hares away with pets. Dogs and cats are known to chase away other small animals, including these color-changing hares. A snowshoe hare’s primary response to a predator is to escape. So, having pets who like chasing others away will be effective in repelling them.

Author: Jomvie Reyes

Jomvie has been a writer for over 10 years and animals and wildlife are among his favorite topics. Learning and writing about the vast and diverse wildlife from all over the world, is more of a hobby than a job for him. Jomvie loves to watch and observe these remarkable species up close and personal.

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