It seems that biologists know everything about the Alpine hare (Lepus timidus), particularly about its ration. However, the Yakut scientists, Anatoly Pshennikov and Vladimir Pozdnyakov have discovered a previously unknown method the hares employ in wintertime when they suffer from the lack of food.
Forage is scarce in winter in Yakutia. The Alpine hares are content to feed on bushes and young trees. If the distance between the ground and a thin twig is less than a meter, the hare bites it off. This is the best food the hare can count on in wintertime. Thin sprouts make quick and substantial food for hares (1 gram of forage per 40-45 seconds). When there are no twigs available within their reach, the hares make a ’ring’ on the tree, gnawing the rind and bast round the trunk. Sometimes a thin tree fails to stand it and falls down, and then the hare gets tasty twigs. If young trees are gnawed round, the hares have to feed on the rind of old trees, although this does not happen often. These are the traditions of the hare nutrition.
Nevertheless, hunger can make the animals change their ration. If the hares happen to find hay - they feed on hay. Once, in place of such stack there remained only a circle of hare excrement 7-10 centimeters high along the perimeter, hay-dust mixed with excrements lying in the middle. Sometimes the hares nibble tar, polyethylene, tarpaulin. The hunters from the town of Verkhoiansk used to tell about the cases when the hares were eating their entrapped congeners. However, there is one more way of getting food - an unconventional method of getting traditional forage. To get hold of tasty thin twigs, the hares purposefully fell trees.
Natalia Reznik | Informnauka
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