Springhares: The kangaroo hop-alike

By Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE - Spring Hare (Pedetes capensis), CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

The springhare are two remaining species of the family Pedetidae(meaning long foot). This family probably evolved in the Pliocene, around five million years ago. They are most closely related to the Laotian Rock Rats and are not hares but rodents. The two species exist almost entirely in the scrubs and grasslands of sub-saharan Africa.

These animals have long hind legs, hop quite fast and can spring nearly 6 ft in the air. They need to because they seem to be the favorite snack of all birds of prey and land predators of every stripe too. As they hop along, their tail acts as a rudder quite like kangaroos. This is another example of convergent evolution where two species exhibit similar body types and behavior even though they are completed unrelated to each other.

These creatures are quite tiny, weighing in at 7 lbs. with a size of 37 inches. This includes a tail length of 17-19 inches too. Springhare are brown in color with only a black tip at the end of the tail. The underside of the belly is lighter in color.

These lovely creatures have long ears to dissipate excess heat and also don’t need to drink water as they gets all their needs met by a diet of leaves and seeds. An occasional insect is also eaten but springhares are largely vegetarian.

The springhare have no mating season and the female can give birth to one leveret per litter up to thrice a year. The young are born furred and with open eyes, much more mature than other rodents. The leverets also stay longer with the mother (also called “jill”), which is unusual among rodents.

They are a favorite cuisine of various indigenous african populations and were considered vulnerable in 1996. However, populations have bounced back and they are a species of least concern when last counted in 2005.

One more thing…

They have a small strip called the septum that separate the breathing tube(trachea) from the feeding tube (oesophagus). This is only present in birds and not found in any other mammalian species. “Considerably cute and odd this creature is”, as Master Yoda would say.

About mammal 73 Articles
I blog about mammals and all the interesting and fun-filled facts about them will be welcome additions to this blog.

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