Snowshoe hare personalities & our favorite 'bold' hare: Hoggle

LP

Say hello to our favorite snowshoe hare: Hoggle!

We keep a few snowshoe hares in captivity to perform more robust studies on them then we can in the field. But the robustness of these studies probably includes one too many treats. I test for an array of personality traits in these captive hares using a novel objects test. But once complete, novelty seems to become a thing of the past as the hares become habituated to us and the fact that we bring the good stuff. Here is Hoggle begging for a treat.

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And here she is again begging for a treat.

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 And again.

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And here she is devouring a strawberry.

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And here she is glorifying in dandelions.

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Hoggle was accidentally born in captivity, as we trapped her mother unbeknownst to her state of pregnancy. Hoggle has since become a favorite of many. She is now 5 years old and certainly the queen of the castle. As soon as she hears you coming, she sprints over to the gate and very impatiently demands a snack, by digging into your leg and nibbling on your shoes.

My dissertation is examining animal personalities (individual behavioral consistencies), and the role they play in adaptation to climate change. The field of animal personalities is fairly new, but has gained widespread acceptance in the past 20 years as personalities have been found time and time again across taxa.

Hoggle is my Ph.D. mascot, as she has as unique a personality as any domestic dog or cat.

I have a personal fondness for the more bold hares, simply for the fact that they are not afraid of me, and therefore I can interact with them more. But from an adaptive viewpoint, it is most likely the shy individuals that will fare better in a changing world (at least in prey species). Keep an eye out for my research to discover whether it’s better to be bold or timid!

 

-Lindsey Barnard, PhD student