The Springhare (Pedetes capensis), or Springhaas, is not actually a hare, but a member of the order Rodentia; it is the only species in its family Pedetidae and in the genus Pedetes. Synonyms are P. caffer or P. cafer.
CharacteristicsThe Springhare resembles a small kangaroo (though unrelated) with well-developed hind legs, which allows it to leap over 2 meters in a single bound. It is for this ability which it gets its name. This animal grows to be around 35–45 cm in length excluding its long tail, and weighs an average of 3 kg. The tail adds to another 36–47 cm in length. The colour of this mammal varies from a reddish-brown to a pale grey, with a black tip on the tail. The Springhare lives only in south-eastern Africa, feeding on plant matter and even occasionally insects. They have four toes on their hind feet with claws that look like small hoofs; these are wider than those found on the forefeet. They have a thick muscular neck supporting their short head. They also have large eyes, and their ears have a tragus that prevents sand from entering when they are digging. Springhares breed throughout the year. The females give birth to a single infant about three times a year. Unlike some other rodents, which have blind and hairless young, springhares are born furred, and are active within a very short time of birth. However, they are not weaned and do not leave the burrow until they are they are about half grown. This extended period of parental care helps to mitigate a birth-rate that is, among rodents, remarkably low.
BehaviorSpringhares are mostly nocturnal but are occasionally active in the day. During the daytime, they live in tunnels that they dig. They plug the entrance of the hole with soil from the inside of the tunnel. It is easier for them to dig during the rainy season when the soil is wet. Sometimes they leap out of their burrows when they come out at night. The Springhare jumps like a kangaroo on its hind legs, retreating to its burrow when frightened. It has been found that a pair of Springhares may occupy many different burrows on different days. They tend to make three burrows together in a circular shape. These burrows are mostly found near the largest tree or bush within their home range. The Springhare's home range is within 25 to 250 meters of its burrow. It may expand its area during a drought.
StatusThe Springhare was listed as vulnerable by the IUCN in 1996 due to an approximately 20% decrease in the population over the last ten years. This has been caused by intense hunting and the loss of habitat. In 2001 their status was reclassified to least concern (LC).
- Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
Springhaas in German: Springhase
Springhaas in Spanish: Pedetes capensis
Springhaas in French: Lièvre sauteur
Springhaas in Italian: Pedetes capensis
Springhaas in Georgian: გრძელფეხა
Springhaas in Lithuanian: Pėdūnas
Springhaas in Hungarian: Ugrónyúl
Springhaas in Dutch: Springhaas
Springhaas in Japanese: トビウサギ
Springhaas in Polish: Postrzałka
Springhaas in Portuguese: Pedetes capensis
Springhaas in Russian: Долгоног
Springhaas in Finnish: Hyppyjänis
Springhaas in Swedish: Springhare
Springhaas in Chinese: 跳兔