Springhare

Although my final day at Tarangire was bittersweet, it ended on such a high note for I had discovered a species I never knew existed. While out on a night game drive I saw the feeding lions from earlier in the day, hyenas running from bush to bush, a genet scurrying so fast I was only able to see a tail, a bush baby perched high up in a tree staring down at me and jackals scavenging throughout the night. But one animal in particular was so new and so little is known about this creature I’ve decided to make my very first Flora and Fauna Facts post about the springhare. I’ve never heard of such a creature and have definitely never seen one before. I was truly amazed for something I’ve never even heard of was right before my very own eyes.

SPRINGHARE: Springhare in natural habitat

Scientific name: Pedetes capensis­

Conservation Status: Vulnerable (IUCN)

Weight: 6 to 8lbs (3 to 4kg)

Size: 14 to 17 inches long

Habitat: Dry grassland/Savannas

Diet: Herbivorous

Diurnal or nocturnal: Nocturnal

Gestation Period: 2 to 3 months (approx. 70 to 80 days)

Geographic range: South of Zaire, Kenya, South Africa, Eastern Africa

Physical Description

  • Large eyes
  • Short forelegs
  • Long hind legs – they can jump 2-3 meters when absolutely needed
  • Four toes with claws on hind feet
  • Five toes with claws on front feet
  • Thin long fur
  • Dark sandy brown backside
  • White underside
  • Bushy black or dark brown tip of tail
  • Tail approx. equal in length of body
  • Shoulder height of 30cm when on hind legs
  • A flap of skin at the base of the ear that can close it off to prevent sand from entering the inner ear
  • Has the body of a kangaroo, appears to look like squirrel (in my opinion) and has the ears of a rabbit

Reproduction

  • Gestation period 2 to 3 months
  • Litters of 1 young
  • Born with hair covering their entire body
  • Offspring leave mothers around 7 months
  • Reach sexual maturity around 5.5lbs (2.5 kg)

Behavior

  • Dens in burrows
  • Can make at minimal of three borrows surrounding each other
  • Retreats to burrow when frightened
  • Close off their tunnels from the inside to stay protected from predators
  • Stays within 25 to 250 meters from its burrow
  • Most likely found near the biggest bush/tree
  • Consumes all parts of a plant sprouts, stems, and roots
  • Easier to dig during rainy season when soil is wet

Predators

  • Owls
  • Mongoose
  • Genets
  • Snakes
  • Jackals
  • Wild Cats
  • Wild Dogs
  • Leopards
  • Lions
  • Humans

The springhare is the only member of the Pedetidae family alive today. There has been a 20% decrease of population in the last 10 years due to loss of habitat and used as bushmeat by humans. 

References:

Grzimek, D., D. Badrian, D. Heere, R. Hess, M. Jones. 1990. Grzimek’s Encyclopedia of Mammals (vol.3). New York, St. Louis, San Francisco: McGraw-Hill Publishing Company.

External Links:

Biodiversity Explorer – Springhare

African Wildlife Foundation

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