MOULTS AND WINTER WHITENING IN THE MOUNTAIN HARE LEPUS TIMIDUS SCOTICUS, HILZHEIMER

Authors


SUMMARY

  • 1The mountain hare undergoes three annual moults. These are a spring moult from white to brown, an autumn moult from brown to brown, a winter moult from brown to white
  • 2Flat air-dried skins were used to trace the course of the moults because new growth is clearly indicated by hair root marks on the flesh side of the skin
  • 3The pelage of the mountain hare consists of fur, pile hair and guard hair. The summer pelage is described
  • 4The autumn moult begins in June and ends in September. It begins about the end of the main breeding season. Some white hair is grown, particularly on the feet
  • 5The winter moult begins in October. Winter fur is longer, finer in texture and denser than that of summer or autumn. Projecting as “fine white hair” to the tips of the pile hair it is largely responsible for the hare's white colouring. Moulting on the body ceases in December; on the head not until January or early February
  • 6The spring moult begins in February, rather later than the beginning of the breeding season. Pelage is shed before replacement in this moult and in the autumn moult; in the winter moult the old hair is only shed when the new hair is almost or fully grown
  • 7No significant regional variations, owing to temperature, occur within England and Scotland. Variations in the progress of the moult, due to temperature, may occur
  • 8There is some blanching of winter pile and guard hairs and probably of whiskers
  • 9In season and duration the moults resemble those of the Scottish ptarmigan

Ancillary