Snowshoe Hares and Ticks

Carden Alvar on 26 June 2018

Showshoe Hare 1. On Wylie Road, Carden Alvar, Ron Pittaway and I watched two Snowshoe Hares, one at the north end of Wylie Road and the other at Sedge Wren Marsh. On close inspection, both hares were infested with ticks. This tick is known as the Rabbit Tick Haemaphysalis leporispalustris. Widespread in North and South America, it has one of the largest ranges of New World ticks. Its hosts are cottontail rabbits, hares and sometimes ground-nesting birds. In Ontario it is the only tick on Snowshoe Hares and European Hares, but it has not been reported on Eastern Cottontails in the province (Ed Addison personal communication).

Note: This tick does not carry Lyme Disease.


Showshoe Hare 1. This individual with a multitude of Rabbit Ticks in its ears and some on its face was near the north end of Wylie Road. The scientific name Haemaphysalis leporispalustris is apt. Michel Gosselin explained that haema-physalis means “blood-bladder”, evidently from the look of the engorged tick, which grows larger with each moult; and leporis-palustris means “of the marsh rabbit” from the first specimen having been collected on a Marsh Rabbit Lepus (now Sylvilagus) palustris in North Carolina.


Showshoe Hare 1. Both male and female ticks become engorged. Alberta Fish and Wildlife says this tick is a "benign critter that is common on snowshoe hares and jackrabbits throughout the province but causes little or no problem." However, the Alaska Department of Fish and Wildlife advises care in handling hares with ticks as these ticks can carry an uncommon bacterial disease called Tularemia, Wylie Road, Carden Alvar on 26 June 2018.


Showshoe Hare 2. Snowshoe Hare 2 at Sedge Wren Marsh also had Rabbit Ticks on its ears and face. Wylie Road, Carden Alvar on 26 June 2018


Showshoe Hare 2. Rabbit Ticks engorged on a Snowshoe Hare on Wylie Road, Carden Alvar on 26 June 2018.