Pronolagus rupestrisSmith's red rockhare

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Geographic Range

The red rock hare is found in the eastern Rift Valley in Kenya, Zambia, eastern Rhodesia, South Africa and South-west Africa. Throughout their distributional range their occurrence is dependent on the availability of rocky habitat.

Habitat

Red rock hares are only found in stony country where dense bush, grass and rocks are intermingled. They shelter under slabs of stone or in rock crevices.

Physical Description

The red rock hare measures 390-570mm in length from head to tail. The hindfoot measures 75-100mm and the ear measures 60-100mm in length. The hairs on the back of the hare are brown and are thicker than the hairs on the underside, which are white in color. The ears and face are grey in color, while the tail and limb are russet. The claws and digits are short and broad.

  • Average mass
    2 kg
    4.41 lb

Reproduction

The gestation period of red rock hares is one month. Each litter contains 1 to 2 young. Females construct a nest made of vegetable debris lined with their fur. Young are altricial, they have very little hair, their eyes are closed, and their movement limited to the confines of the nest.

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual
  • Average number of offspring
    2

Behavior

Red rock hares are nocturnal. They are cautious and generally hide long before they are seen. When chased by dogs, they are capable of rapid and startling maneuvers. They are also known to vocalize a series of screams when running away, perhaps to frighten predators or to warn others of danger. Although red rock hares are known to be solitary, they do associate very closely with hyrax, they may benefit from the hyrax' alertness and also can take refuge in the same holes.

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Red rock hares feed on grasses, herbs, and the shoots of shrubs. They are grazers and prefer areas where grass is sprouting after fire.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

None known.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

None known.

Conservation Status

Populations of red rock hare appear stable.

Other Comments

The flesh of these hares is very aromatic. This may be due to their diet.

Contributors

Ryo Sekine (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Glossary

Ethiopian

living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.

World Map

altricial

young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

folivore

an animal that mainly eats leaves.

herbivore

An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

solitary

lives alone

tactile

uses touch to communicate

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.

savanna

A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.

References

Ansell, W. 1978. The Mammals of Zambia. Chilanga, Zambia: The National Parks & Wildlife Service.

Delany, M., D. Happold. 1979. Ecology of African Mammals. London: Longman Group Limited.

Kingdon, J. 1984. East African Mammals: An atlas of evolution in Africa. Volume II, Part B (Hares and Rodents). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Roberts, A. 1957. The Mammals of South Africa. New York: Hafner Publishing Company.

Smith, S. 1985. The Atlas of Africa's Principal Mammals. Fourways, South Africa: Natural History Books.

Smithers, R. 1983. The Mammals of the Southern African Subregion. Pretoria, South Africa: University of Pretoria.