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I Dream Africa

I Dream Africa

Hares & Rabbits




Introduction: The Cape hare (Lepus capensis) was originally named from the Cape of Good Hope, but are widely distributed on the African continent. They are predominately nocturnal animals and lie up in forms during the day, usually in grass clumps or under a short bush with their ears folded flat on the shoulders as a sign of alertness. They are fast on their feet and have excellent eyesight and hearing, and their preference is for shorter grass areas that must at the same time provide cover.

Distribution: The Cape hare occurs from the Kunene River in the north of Namibia, running narrowly southwards along the coast and then onto the southern parts of the country.

Diet: Cape hare are grazers and they typically eat short grass and other types of shrubs.

Coloring: Due to their wide distribution colors can vary, but in the main their hair is light buffy in colour and the under parts ochre buffy.

Breeding: The gestation period is about 42 days and litters vary from 1-3 in numbers. Breeding continues even in adverse conditions and it is possible for females to produce up to 4 litters per year.

Size: Adult measure around 53cm with a mass of 2.5kg. The females are slightly larger and heavier


Introduction: Scrub hares (Lepus saxatilis) are so called for their association with the type of habitat preferred, that is scrub, where there is grass cover. They are common in agricultural areas, often concentrating in the vicinity of growing crops. They also occur in savannah woodland. They are nocturnal animals, emerging to feed at sundown, being more evident on warm rather than cold evenings and not moving at all in periods of rainfall.

They lie up in forms under bushes where there is also grass cover, with their ears folded back flat on to their shoulders with the head pulled into the shoulder. This helps them to blend into the environment affording them extra concealment.

Distribution: Scrub hare occur widely in Namibia except in the coastal regions of the Namib Desert.

Diet: They live on the leaves, stems and rhizomes (a thick underground stem that produces a new plant) and dry and green grass, with a preference for green grass.

Coloring: The upper parts of the body are grizzled grayish or buffy.

Breeding: Litters are small, from 1 to 3, with triplets more evident after a good rainy season. Young are born in forms, fully haired and with their eyes wide open and capable of moving around after birth.

Size: The scrub hare varies in size due to location but on average males are around 55cm long and with between 2kg and 3.2kg. Females are slightly larger and heavier.



Introduction: The Jameson's red rock rabbit (Pronolagus randensis) are named after the describer of the species H.L Jameson and also because of their confinement to rocky koppies, hillsides strewn with boulders, rocky kloofs and gorges. It has been observed and recorded that they are able to traverse unsuitable ground to reach an appropriate habitat. They are predominately nocturnal creatures, generally solitary and lie up during the day in crevices, under the shelter of boulders or under the cover of thick, patchy grass in these rocky areas. They also use latrines, the characteristically shaped pellets are an indication of their presence.

Distribution: They occur from the Kunene River in north-western Namibia southwards along the inland escarpment.

Diet: The Jameson's red rock rabbit is a grazer of palatable grasses in the rocky habitat which they live. They will move at night to flat areas surrounding these rocky areas to feed.

Coloring: Their underfur is rufous brown, lighter in colour towards the base. The chin is whitish. The underparts of the body are pinkish-buff.

Breeding: The average litter is small, only 1 or 2 young are born, usually in secluded resting places.

Size: Head and body length is about 46cm and there average mass is about 2.3kg. Males and females are similar in size and weight.


Introduction: Smith's red rock rabbit (Pronolagus rupestris) is the smallest of southern Africa's 3 rock rabbits with Jameson's red rock rabbit being Namibia's only other species. It is nocturnal and will forage within close range of its habitat of rocky hillsides.

Distribution: Rocky habitats of the lower central highlands from the Orange River north as far the Rehoboth region.

Diet: Green sprouting grass.

Coloring: Reddish-brown fur interrupted on the upperparts by a black grizzling. It has grey cheeks. The dark brown bushy tail has a black tip.

Breeding: Females give birth to 1 or 2 kittens. During the gestation period of 35 to 45 days, grass and fur-lined nests are built in small holes in the ground for birthing.

Weight: 1.6kg.


Introduction: The name springhaas (Pedetes capensis) is derived from the bounds and hops on its powerful hind legs that propel it forward with its long tail acts as a balancing tool. Although the name springhaas translates into English as springhare, this is an incorrect use as hares belong to the Leporidae family.

Springhaas are large rodents which resemble small kangaroos, with their short front legs, long, very powerful hind legs and long tail. They have short round heads, large eyes and long, narrow but erect roundly pointed ears. Their habitat must include compact sandy soil to dig their burrows and they generally avoid hard ground, mopane woodland, or heavy clay soils. This explains there patchy distribution.

They are nocturnal creatures, and do not emerge from their burrows until well after dark, announcing their arrival sometimes with a high leap, and at others by just poking their noses out to test the air and the head with ears raised to listen for danger.

Distribution: Springhaas are widely distributed in Namibia although not so common in the coastal areas of the Namib Desert.

Diet: They are grazers living almost entirely on grass.

Coloring: The colour of the coat can vary from one area to another, but in general it is a cinnamon-buff and slightly darker on the head. The tail has a broad jet-black tip. The under parts are whitish, faintly yellow.

Breeding: A single young is born at almost any time of the year with a gestation period of around 60 days, born in burrows fully furred.

Size: Males have an overall length up to 90cm with a tail half this length and an average mass of around Females are slightly smaller in build.

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