South African springhare

Infant at birth is well-developed as they can immediately sit on their hind legs and even run on the second day

Bernard DUPONT

South African springhare


Infant at birth is well-developed as they can immediately sit on their hind legs and even run on the second day


Once lumped together with a diverse group, including jerboas, porcupines, and scaly-tailed squirrels, this unique animal has since been recognized as distinct enough to warrant its own family, Pedetidae. This classification underscores the springhare’s unique evolutionary path and its distinct niche within the animal kingdom.

Springhares are notable for their robust hind legs, a trait that endows them with remarkable jumping capabilities. They can leap over 2 meters (6 feet 7 inches) in a single bound, a testament to their muscular development and environmental adaptation. This ability not only aids in rapid movement across the open plains and savannas where they dwell but also serves as an effective mechanism for evading predators.

The fur of the South African springhare varies in color from pale grey to reddish-brown, providing camouflage against the earthy tones of their natural habitat. This coloring is a crucial adaptation for a primarily nocturnal animal, allowing it to blend into the landscape during its active hours. The distinctive black tip of its tail adds an identifiable feature to this otherwise cryptic animal.

Perhaps one of the most peculiar aspects of the South African springhare is its resting posture. Unlike many animals that might tuck their legs beneath them or lie down, the springhare rests with its hind legs stretched forward and its body bent between them. This unusual position places the top of its head and ears in direct contact with the ground. This posture is believed to enable the springhare to detect vibrations in the ground, an essential survival skill in the open habitats they frequent.

This sensory adaptation, combined with their powerful leaps and camouflaged fur, makes the South African springhare a fascinating study in evolutionary adaptation and ecological niche specialization. As nocturnal foragers, they feed primarily on plant material, digging with their forelimbs to unearth roots and tubers.


Population est.
DR Congo (Kinshasa)
South Africa

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No