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Springhare: Pedetidae - Physical Characteristics

legs springhares front hind

Springhares look like very small kangaroos. Their name actually means "jumping hare" in Afrikaans (one of the official languages of the Republic of South Africa). They have a body length of 13 to 17 inches (33 to 44 centimeters) when standing upright on their hind legs, a tail length of 14 to 19 inches (35 to 49 centimeters), and weigh 6 to 9 pounds (2 to 5 kilograms). Springhares have short front legs and long, powerful hind legs. Their front legs are one quarter of the length of their hind legs. Each front leg has five toes with long, sharp, curved claws that are used for digging. Each hind leg has four toes with claws that look like hoofs. The second toe from the outside is longer than the other toes. The heels, soles of their feet, and base of their toes do not have any hair covering them.

Springhares have short, blunt heads, big eyes, and long eyelashes. Their ears are narrow, have thin hairs on the upper half, are naked on the inside, and are about 3 inches (7 centimeters) long. At times, their ears have the tendency to droop to their sides. They also have a tragus (TRAY-gus; prominence in front of the ear's opening) that folds back and closes the opening of the ear to keep out sand when digging. Their necks are thin and muscular.

Long, soft, straight hairs cover springhares' bodies. Springhares are colored pink-brown to gray on their upper half with some black or white hairs in the fur. On the lower half, they are brown-white. This same color also spreads upward in front of their thighs and on the inside of their legs. Their tails are mostly tan with a thick, dark brown or black brush at the tip. The shading of their colors depends on the area where they live. For example, springhares from eastern South Africa have fur that is paler than those that live in the western areas of South Africa.

Springhare: Pedetidae - Habitat [next]

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