Arctic hares (Lepus arcticus) do not hibernate. Instead, to survive the Arctic cold they rely on one key physical characteristic -- their fur -- as well as on special coping behaviours.
Arctic hares can be active all winter because of the insulating quality of their fur coat. A short, thick and warm under-fur is protected by the longer, silky top fur. A hare with fat for 20% of its body weight could live for 15 days at -24°C (11°F) on that stored fat alone because of this excellent insulation.
The time of shedding fur and the moulting patterns vary with latitude. Not much is known about the moulting pattern but it has been assumed that the annual moult starts in June. During his research at Sverdrup Pass on Ellesmere Island (now in Nunavut), biologist Dr. David Gray saw hares begin losing their winter coats in April, when temperatures still hover around -30°C (-22°F). Nursing females seem to moult later than other Arctic hares.
The black fur on the ear tips may be a way of keeping the sensitive ear tips warmer when the sun is shining. Black ear tips are common to many species of hares.
Canadian Museum of Nature