n African Zoology - Life history of the springhare from a strongly seasonal environment in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa

Volume 40, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1562-7020
  • E-ISSN: 2224-073X
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The life history of the springhare <I>Pedetes capensis</I>, Forster, 1778) at 33°S, in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, was characterized by continuous, aseasonal and asynchronous reproduction. Females were monotocous and consecutive pregnancies were separated by a non pregnant period (30-50 days) similar in length to the period of lactation. Young were relatively large at birth (8% of adult body weight) but were altricial and only emerged from the burrow at weaning. Towards the end of lactation, many females mated again (20% of all females were both lactating and in early pregnancy) and annual fecundity was probably two but never more than three. For a rodent, albeit a large one, this is a very slow rate of reproduction and we propose that the ricochetal locomotion (jumping on the hind legs) and semi-fossorial life style of the springhare will have resulted in decreased juvenile and adult mortality, and increased longevity, and that these factors have shaped the evolution of the life history of the springhare.

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