The Family Pedetidae is comprised of large rodents known as springhares. The family consists of four genera, three of which are now extinct. The only extant genera, Pedetes, persist with two known species: Pedetes surdaster, the East African Spring-hare and Pedetes capensis, the Springhare or Springhaas. Both species are found in the southern region of Africa. Pedetes capensis can be found from the southern tip of the African continent to the southern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, while Pedetes surdaster is found primarily throughout Tanzania and southern Kenya. Fossil evidence shows the family origins began in the Miocene while the current extant genera have origins in the Pliocene. Their preferred habitat is grasslands with sandy soil suitable for burrowing. They often are seen at night foraging in groups of varying sizes, feeding on grasses, forbs, and other vegetation. Their tendency to forage on agriculture products has made them a nuisance, but they are also a valuable source of meat. Although they have been endangered in past years, protected regions have helped to secure their numbers throughout Africa.
The primary source of movement in the Pedetidae is hopping on their hind legs called ricochetal locomotion. Although they primarily hop, springhares will also use their front legs for walking. The short front legs, long hind legs, and a long bushy tail make the springhare similar to the kangaroo. The fur is thin, brownish red, with the tip of the tail being black. They have short heads, muscular necks, and large skulls that house long ears and big eyes. Interestingly, the tragus of their long ears can close the ear canal while burrowing. The front legs are built for burrowing with five long claws, while the hind legs are suited for rapid movement having four wide claws.
Jackson, A. 2000. “Pedetes capensis” (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed February 06, 2015 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Pedetes_capensis/
Butynski, T.M. & De Jong, Y. 2008. Pedetes surdaster. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. . Downloaded on 06 February 2015.
Author: Edward Peebles