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Text: Ukaliq the Arctic Hare.
Illustration of an Arctic hare paw print.
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Text: About the Arctic Hare. Photo: An Arctic hare. Text: Heritage, History and Art. Photo: A carving in walrus ivory of an Arctic hare. Text: Studying the Arctic Hare. Photo: David Gray looking through a spotting scope. Text: Games and Activities. Photo: An Arctic hare in mid-hop.
Texts: "About the Arctic Hare", and "Ukaliq" in Inuktitut syllabics. Photos: An Arctic hare and a maple leaf.




Individual Behaviour




Social Behaviour




Breeding Behaviour




Life Cycle


Eat and Be Eaten


Naming & Classifying

Illustration of an Arctic hare paw print.
Image 1) View of Bylot Island, Nunavut.

Enlarge image.

The Holotype

When it was identified as a new species in 1819 by Commander John Ross, the Arctic hare was named Lepus arcticus, for the area in which it lives. The definition of the species was based on a hare collected in 1818 at Possession Bay, Bylot Island, which is now in Nunavut.


Naming and Classifying

What's in a Name?

Image 2) A mountain hare in Scotland.

Enlarge image.The mountain hare (Lepus timidus) of northern Europe and Siberia is a close relative of the Arctic hare.

In the North, local names for the Arctic hare (Lepus arcticus) in Inuktitut, Inuinaqtun, and Innu include many similar variations of Ukaliq, including: Okalerk, Okalik and Okalishugyuk.

An English-speaker would pronounce Ukaliq something like "ook-ah-lick" ('ook', as in 'book').

When speaking English, Northern residents call the Arctic hare 'rabbit'. Historically, the Arctic hare has also been called the alpine hare and the polar hare. In Newfoundland, Arctic hares are simply called 'hares', although sometimes they are called 'jackrabbits' (but not 'rabbit', which is used to refer to the snowshoe hare).

To avoid confusion from the variety of common names that may be applied to the same animal, scientists use Latin to devise a specific scientific name for each species. The scientific, species name of the Arctic hare is Lepus arcticus, which means 'hare of the Arctic'.


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Last update: 2015-09-01
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Image credits: 1) David R. Gray. 2) David R. Gray.