SPRINGHARE – Pedietes capensis

SIZE: Length 80 cm, mass 3 kg.

COLOUR: Varies from pale reddish-brown to yellowish-grey. Slightly darker tail broadly black at the tip. The underparts and insides of the legs are white or whitish-yellow. Large, dark eyes which shine bright yellow-orange in torchlight.

MOST LIKE: Other hares, but distinguished by its excessively developed hindlegs, erect posture and long black- tipped tail.

HABITAT: Sandy ground covered with scrub, low bush or low grass; this includes the fringes of cultivated land and vleis.

The springhare is a rodent, not a hare, and is the only species in its own family. It has a short, round head with large eyes and long, narrow, upright ears. It is a grazer, feeding almost entirely on grass, though it does eat roots and the leaves of low bushes. It does not drink water, getting its moisture from rain, dew and free water in food eaten. Its enemies include snakes and owls as well as weasels, mongooses and jackals; man is also a major predator.

In Zimbabwe and Botswana springhares are a source of protein and the Koi-San are so fond of them that they eat almost every part of the anatomy. The springhare is nocturnal, and so is often caught on the road in the glare of a car's headlights. It excavates a burrow as its shelter: burrows often have more than one exit, and may be linked to neighbouring burrows. The female gives birth to her single young inside the burrow, where it remains for the first seven weeks of its life, before being weaned onto grass.


The Springhare gets its kangaroo-like appearance from its long tail, long and powerful hindlegs and foreshortened forelegs. It gets its name from the fact that it is an avid jumper, and can cover two metres in each bound.