Meet the spring hare, which isn't a hare at all

May 18, 2017, 7:24 a.m.
The spring hare is actually a rodent, not a rabbit.
Photo: Eric Isselee/Shutterstock

The spring hare looks like something that sprung out of an artist's imagination. Built similar to a kangaroo with long, powerful back legs, a long tail and short arms, but with a face that brings to mind a bunny rabbit, the Southern African desert rodent species is a standout. It even stands apart from other rodent species with a unique gait and anatomy.

You get a sense of just how kangaroo-like the creature is in the video below:

The animal's unusual features have made it a chore for scientists to figure out where it goes in the cast of critters.

According to EDGE, "Scientists have found it difficult to classify satisfactorily. It has previously been grouped with jerboas (jumping rodents), porcupines and scaly tailed squirrels, until it was eventually allotted a family of its own, the Pedetiae, of which it is the only species and genus."

Outside of scientific circles, the spring hare is well-known among African farmers who consider them a crop-nibbling pest and often kill them. While they aren't a threatened species, they have declined in recent decades due to habitat loss and degradation from drought, floods, bush fires, rapid urbanization, and other human-caused influences.