Open main menu

East African springhare

The East African springhare (Pedetes surdaster), is not closely related to the hare,which are lagomorphs, but is a member of the Pedetidae, a rodent family.

East African springhare
Pedetes surdaster, Amboseli NP, Kenya.jpg
In Amboseli National Park, Kenya
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Pedetidae
Genus: Pedetes
P. surdaster
Binomial name
Pedetes surdaster
(Thomas, 1902)
Pedetes surdaster distribution (colored).png
  • P.currax - Hollister, 1918
  • P. dentatus - Miller, 1927
  • P. larvalis - Hollister, 1918
  • P. taborae - G. M. Allen and Loveridge, 1927 [2]


Pedetes surdaster was recognised by Matthee and Robinson in 1997 as a species distinct from the southern African springhare (P. capensis) based on genetic, morphological, and ethological differences.[3] P. capensis from South Africa has fewer chromosomes (2n= 38) than does P. surdaster which has (2n = 40) and some other genetic variations.[4] The species was confirmed by Dieterlen in 2005.[1]


This species is found in central and southern Kenya and most of Tanzania. A single specimen has been recorded in Uganda near the Kenya border, at Mount Moroto. It is found from sea level up to an altitude over 2,000 m.[1]


The East African springhare resembles a small kangaroo and is about the size of a rabbit. It is mid-brown, has large erect ears, very short fore legs, and long powerful hind legs.[5] It moves in bounds of up to 2 m and has a long tail fringed with black hairs which provides balance. It can sit up on its haunches like a squirrel.[6][7]


The East African springhare is nocturnal and spends the day in an extensive system of burrows. It lives in semiarid grassland habitats.[1] The diet is the green parts of plants, roots and other vegetable matter, and occasionally insects.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d IUCN Red List
  2. ^ Mammal Species of the World
  3. ^ Matthee, C. A. and Robinson, T. J. 1997. Mitochondrial DNA phylogeography and comparative cytogenetics of the springhare, Pedetes capensis (Mammalia: Rodentia). Journal of Mammalian Evolution 4: 53-73.
  4. ^ Matthee, C. A. and Robinson, T. J. 1997a. Molecular phylogeny of the springhare, Pedetes capensis, based on mitochondrial DNA sequences. Molecular Biology and Evolution 14 (1) : 20-29.
  5. ^ a b On Dipetalonema manson-bahri n.sp., from the Spring-hare, Pedetes surdaster larvalis, with a Note on its Development in Fleas
  6. ^ Pedetes surdaster (East African Spring-hare)
  7. ^ Butynski, Thomas M. (1984). Macdonald, D. (ed.). The Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York: Facts on File. pp. 634–635. ISBN 0-87196-871-1.