Spring Hare (Pedetes capensis)

 

Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family:    Pedetidae
Size:    Length: 14 to 18 inches (36 to 45 cm)
Weight: 7 to 9 pounds (3 to 4 kg)
Diet: Plants, grains, fruit, sometimes insects
Distribution: Africa
Young:  1 per litter (twins are rare) up to 3 times per year
Animal Predators:  Servals, caracals, genets, mongooses, ratels, lions, jackals, snakes and owls
IUCN Status: Vulnerable
Terms: Unknown
Lifespan:

Average lifespan is 8 years in the wild and just over 13 years in captivity

 

Facts/Trivia:

       Spring hares can leap up to 30 feet (9 m).

       Spring hares do not like to get wet and usually stay inside their burrows when it rains.

       The spring hare is also known as a springhaas.

       Spring hares are not actually hares, they are rodents.

       Spring hares have five toes on the forefeet and four on the hind feet; the direct reverse of most rodents.

       Because scientists were not sure how to classify this little animal, the spring hare eventually was classed in a family by itself.

Description

Spring hares have long, powerful hind legs, and they walk on four feet, but when agitated or frightened, they hop away like a kangaroo. Their long bushy tail has a black tip and spring hares use their tail to help them balance when standing on their hind legs. Their eyes are extremely large and their nose is pink. The ears are long and have flaps that can be closed to prevent sand from getting inside when they are digging. Aside from the tip of the tail, their fur is a soft, sandy brown with white undersides. 

 

Habitat

Spring hares are found in dry regions of southern and eastern Africa. Their burrows go approximately three feet below ground level and usually house only one spring hare, although the burrows of other spring hares may be located nearby. Each burrow has between two and 11 entrances. 

 

Feeding Habits

Their diets consist of different types of plants, grains, fruit and occasionally, insects. Several spring hares may forage for food in the same area. 

 

Reproduction

Breeding occurs throughout the year. The female gives birth to one baby inside the burrow, after a gestation of two to three months. The young spring hare is born fully furred, weighing approximately two pounds. It will not leave the burrow until it is about one month of age, at which time it begins to learn to forage with its mother. Young spring hares are weaned by 46 days and will be fully grown by two months. 

 

Behaviour

Spring hares live in burrows, and have very sharp claws that enable them to dig efficiently and quickly. While resting, spring hares lie on their backs with their hind legs stretched out on either side of their bodies and their head and ears on the ground. While inside the burrow, they plug up the entrance. When emerging from the burrow, spring hares shoot out of the entrance in a huge leap, in order to startle predators who may be waiting by the opening. Spring hares rarely travel far from their burrows; only when food has been scarce have they been known to travel as far as 25 miles (40 km) from their homes in search of food and water.  

 

Conservation

There has been a decrease in their population over the last ten years due to hunting and habitat loss.

 

Sources

http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/pedetes/p._capensis$narrative.html

http://www.press.jhu.edu/books/walker/rodentia.pedetidae.pedetes.html

http://www.awf.org/wildlives/187

http://www.kangaroocenter.com/Springhaas.html

http://www.vicfalls.com/env/springhare.asp

http://www.africaexplore.com/springhare.htm

http://www.naturalia.org/ZOO/AN_TERRA/e_lepre_sal.html

http://ladywildlife.com/animal/springhare.html

Spring Hare Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US