Chordates •

South African springhare

(Pedetes capensis)



The South African springhare (Pedetes capensis) (Afrikaans: springhaas) is a medium-sized terrestrial and burrowing rodent. Despite the name, it is not a hare. It is one of two extant species in the genus Pedetes, and is native to southern Africa. Formerly, the genus was considered monotypic and the East African springhare (P. surdaster) was included in P. capensis. Springhares live throughout semi-arid areas in southern Africa, preferentially in sandy plains and pans with short grasses. In agricultural areas, springhares can be considered a pest due to their destructive feeding on crops. However, they are not currently considered under an impending risk of extinction. The springhare resembles a small kangaroo, with well-developed hind legs, short front legs, and a long tail which compromises half of its body length. As well as a long tail, springhares have relatively large eyes and ears. Adults can attain 80 cm in length and weigh an average of 2.7 - 3.5 kg. Similar to kangaroos, they are also saltatorial animals who use their tails for balance. Springhares are reported to be able to make hops of 20 cm and leaps of 2 m. Springhares have long, soft fur, which shortens around the legs, heads, and ears. The colour of this mammal varies from a reddish-brown on its upperparts to an off-white belly and a black tip on the tail. Sometimes the ear tips are also black. Young springhares have finer and fluffier fur and usually have black patches of fur under their hind feet and in a patch of black under their tail base. Springhares have a different number of toes on their forelegs and hindlegs. Their short forelegs have five digits, each ending in a long, sharp, curved claw, which can be 16 millimetres long. their long hindlegs have four digits, three of which are visibly developed and equipped with a strong triangular nail. The oldest recorded individual was 88 months (7 years and 4 months) old. Springhare fur is biofluorescent. Their biofluorescence is patchy, with areas important to grooming and intra-specific interactions being the most biofluorescent. Little is known about its biofluorescence, but both species of springhare are the first thoroughly documented cases of biofluorescence in an Old World eutherian mammal. In a study of ear regeneration in mammals, springhares were found to have the capacity for minimal ear tissue regeneration. This regeneration is far behind to that of rabbits.

Taxonomic tree:

Kingdom: Animalia
Class: Mammalia
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