Snowshoe Hares VS Jackrabbits: Who Will Come Out on Top in this High-Stakes Hare-Off

Some of the more commonly known species of hare are the jackrabbit and snowshoe hare. While they are both unique creatures, people often confuse these two hares with each other.

Snowshoe hares and jackrabbits are both hares, but the snowshoe hare is found in cold climates whilst the jackrabbit is often seen in warmer habitats, like deserts. As such, snowshoe hares are found in the northern parts of America while jackrabbits are found in the southern areas.

Do you want to learn more about how these two hares compare? Which hare is bigger, the jackrabbit or the snowshoe hare? Where do they live? Join us at Floofmania as we take a deeper look into the differences between the jackrabbit and snowshoe hare!

Are Snowshoe Hares And Jackrabbits The Same Thing?

Jackrabbits and snowshoe hares are not the same because they are two different species of hares. And while the name is a bit contradictory, the jackrabbit is not actually a rabbit because it is a hare!

Originally, jackrabbits got their names because of their long ears, which made some people refer to the hare as jackass rabbits. The name became further popularized because Mark Twain used it in his book, Roughing It. Eventually, the name got shortened to “jackrabbit.”

While they are the same species, each hare breed has a unique set of attributes that sets it apart. 

For instance, the jackrabbit is bigger and there are more subspecies of jackrabbit than of snowshoe hares. There is only one type of snowshoe hare whilst there are 5 kinds of jackrabbits.

Another example is that these two breeds do not inhabit the same areas and prefer different climates.

Do Snowshoe Hares And Jackrabbits Look Similar?

Jackrabbit sitting alert in a field of brown grass with its long ears erect at its head held high.

These two hares can look similar in both the summer and winter months since their fur changes color to match their surroundings. 

In the summer, jackrabbits have brown-gray fur with white bellies and tails. Jackrabbits’ fur turns white in the winter with a few brown patches on their ears, feet, and faces.

Snowshoe hares have predominantly white fur in the winter with small patches of brown on their ears and feet, but these patches will be smaller than it’s the case with the jackrabbit’s winter coat. The snowshoe hare’s fur will become a deep brown in the summer, but its flanks will remain white.

If you want to learn how to spot a snowshoe hare in the wild, read our article “How Do I Recognize A Snowshoe Hare?”.

Are Snowshoe Hares And Jackrabbits The Same Size?

Snowshoe hares can weigh 3-4 pounds and reach 18-20 inches in length. As for the jackrabbit, jackrabbits can weigh 6-10 pounds and be 22-26 inches long, making the jackrabbit the larger hare.

Do Snowshoe Hares And Jackrabbits Live In The Same Places?

This will generally depend on the subspecies of jackrabbit that you are talking about. For instance, snowshoe hares live in northern America and all over Canada while jackrabbits are found in southern America.

You can learn more about where the snowshoe hare lives by reading our article, “The Snowshoe Hare’s Habitat.”

However, other subspecies of jackrabbit like the black-tailed jackrabbit will be in the central and western areas of the United States.

Here is a quick look at the other species of jackrabbit and where they live:

  • Antelope Jackrabbit: The deserts of northwestern Mexico and southern Arizona.
  • White-sided Jackrabbit: A small range in extreme southwestern New Mexico.
  • Tehuantepec Jackrabbit: Oaxaca, Mexico.
  • Black Jackrabbit: Gulf of California on Espiritu Santo Island, Mexico.

Do Snowshoe Hares And Jackrabbits Ever Meet In The Wild?

It is unlikely that a jackrabbit and snowshoe hare would ever meet in the wild because they live in different parts of North and South America.

As mentioned earlier, the snowshoe hare is typically found in the upper half of the United States, but they are more commonly found in Canada and even Alaska. So, you can expect to find a snowshoe hare in a colder climate.

As for the jackrabbit, the jackrabbit can be found in the lower half of the United States and the northern regions of South America. This is because they prefer warmer climates, such as deserts and open farmlands. Again, the white-tailed jackrabbit 

Do Snowshoe Hares And Jackrabbits Eat The Same Food?

Jackrabbit sitting on a road close to the curb with long brown and green grass amd bushes behind it.

Snowshoe hares and jackrabbits have similar diets, eating a variety of vegetation like grasses, bark, and more. However, their diet can differ based on where they live.

Moreover, their diets will also depend on the season. For example, snowshoe hares often eat twigs and bark because that is what is available during the winter. However, a snowshoe hare will eat more succulent vegetation during the spring and summer when vegetation flourishes.

Are Snowshoe Hares Or Jackrabbits Faster?

Despite being the smaller hare, the snowshoe hare is faster than the jackrabbit. The snowshoe hare can hit up to 50 miles per hour while the jackrabbit can only reach 40 miles per hour.

When it comes to leaping, however, the jackrabbit is the winner. The jackrabbit averages a distance of 5 to 10 feet in a single leap, but they can reach up to 20 feet if they are in danger or panicked. On the other hand, most snowshoe hares can jump as far as 10-12 feet in one jump. 

As for endurance, both hares are on equal grounds since both animals relatively limited endurance. This is because they are both small animals with small hearts, so their hearts can beat too fast and quickly run out of oxygen if they exert themselves for a long period. They have also evolved to become sprinters, meaning they quickly run to a hiding spot instead of trying to outrun predators that run for longer distances.

This is why larger animals have better endurance and can easily chase down smaller prey. It is worth noting that some larger animals are also sprinters, such as the cheetah or mountain lion, but they can still chase down hares because they have larger hearts.

Can Jackrabbits And Snowshoe Hares Mate?

Jackrabbits and snowshoe hares can breed! Despite the name, jackrabbits are actually hares. As such, a snowshoe hare and a jackrabbit could breed if given the chance. 

However, it is very unlikely that these two hares would ever mate in the wild. They are found in completely different parts of North and South America, so you will probably never see a hybrid of a jackrabbit and snowshoe hare.

Author: Allison Marie Dinglasan

Hello! I am Allison, an avid writer for 6 years with a deep interest in animals since I was a child. I grew up on Animal Planet and animal books and often did rescue work for stray and sickly cats, dogs, and birds in my area, which led to over 60 rescues. My future goal is to be a veterinarian to have a more hands-on approach to helping and learning about animals!

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