Jumping-hare - Encyclopedia


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JUMPING-HARE, the English equivalent of springhaas, the Boer name of a large leaping south and east African rodent mammal, Pedetes cater, typifying a family by itself, the Pedetidae. Originally classed with the jerboas, to which it has no affinity, this remarkable rodent approximates in the structure of its skull to the porcupine-group, near which it is placed by some naturalists, although others consider that its true position is with the African scaly-tailed flying squirrels (Anomaluridae). The colour of the creature is bright rufous fawn; the eyes are large; and the bristles round the muzzle very long, the former having a fringe of long hairs. The front limbs are short, and the hind ones very long; and although the fore-feet have five toes, those of the hind-feet are reduced to four. The bones of the lower part of the hind leg (tibia and fibula) are united for a great part of their length. There are four pairs of cheek-teeth in each jaw, which do not develop roots. The jumping-hare is found in open or mountainous districts, and has habits very like a jerboa. It is nocturnal, and dwells in composite burrows excavated and tenanted by several families. When feeding it progresses on all four legs, but if frightened takes gigantic leaps on the hind-pair alone; the length of such leaps frequently reaches twenty feet, or even more. The young are generally three or four in number, and are born in the summer. A second smaller species has been named. (See RODENTIA.)

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