Click to return to Contents - Rabbits and their Relatives
CONTENTS

Living OrganismsAnimalia / Craniata / Mammalia / Lagomorpha / Leporidae / Pronolagus / Species

Pronolagus rupestris - Smith's red rock hare (Click photographs/illustrations for full picture & further details)

 

INDEX - INFORMATION AVAILABLE

GENERAL & REFERENCES

APPEARANCE / MORPHOLOGY

LIFE STAGES / NATURAL DIET / PHYSIOLOGY

BEHAVIOUR

HABITAT & RANGE

CONSERVATION

Return to top of page

General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

  • Smith's red rock rabbit. (B51)
  • Smith's red rockhare. (B285.w5c, B605.8.w8, W2.Apr08.w72)
  • Pronolagus australis. (B607.w20)
  • Pronolagus melanurus. (B607.w20)
  • Pronolagus mülleri. (B607.w20)
  • Pronolagus rupestris australis. (B605.8.w8)
  • Pronolagus rupestris barretti. (B605.8.w8, B607.w20)
  • Pronolagus rupestris bowkeri. (B605.8.w8, B607.w20)
  • Pronolagus rupestris curryi. (B605.8.w8, B607.w20)
  • Pronolagus rupestris fitzsimonsi. (B605.8.w8)
  • Pronolagus rupestris melanurus. (B605.8.w8)
  • Pronolagus rupestris mulleri. (B605.8.w8)
  • Pronolagus rupestris nyikae. (B605.8.w8, B607.w20)
  • Pronolagus rupestris rupestris. (B605.8.w8)
  • Pronolagus rupestris saundersiae. (B605.8.w8, B607.w20)
  • Pronolagus rupestris vallicola. (B605.8.w8, B607.w20)
  • Pronolagus rupestris whitei. (B605.8.w8)

Names for new-borns / juveniles

  • Leveret (B285.w5b)

Names for males

Names for females

Return to top of page

General Appearance

Adult:
  • Pronolagus spp. have short ears and a uniformly reddish brown to dark brown tail. (B605.8.w8)

Newborn: --

Similar Species

Sexual Dimorphism

--

Return to top of page

References

Species Authors & Referees

Author: Kathryn Pintus BSc MSc MSc (V.w115)

ORGANISATIONS

ELECTRONIC LIBRARY
(Further Reading)
Click image for full contents list of ELECTRONIC LIBRARY

Return to top of page

Husbandry Information

Notes

  • --

Management Techniques

Return to top of page

Appearance / Morphology

Measurement & Weight

Notes

LENGTH
Adult:

Specific Pronolagus rupestris Information

  • 35-50 cm. (B285.w5c)
  • 380-560 mm. (B147)
  • Tail: 
  • Hindfoot: 7.5-10 cm. (B285.w5c)
  • Ear: 6-10 cm. (B285.w5c)

Newborns: --

HEIGHT
Adults and sub-adults: --
Juveniles: --

WEIGHT
Adult:

Specific Pronolagus rupestris Information

  • 2.0-2.5 kg. (B285.w5c)
  • 1.35-3.05 kg. (B147)

Newborns: --

GROWTH RATE --

Return to top of page

Head and Neck

Notes

GENERAL HEAD STRUCTURE:
Adult:
--
Newborn: --

DENTITION:

General Information

  • Rabbits and hares have a total of 28 teeth. (B285.w5a)
    • The dental formula for rabbits and hares is i 2/1, c 0/0, pm 3/2, m 3/3 x 2 = 28. (B147, B285.w5a)
  • The lower tooth rows are closer together than the upper tooth rows. (B147)
  • Lagomorphs differ from rodents by having two pairs of upper incisors rather than just the one pair. The additional set of incisors are called peg teeth and are found directly behind the long pair in the upper jaw. (B147, B285.w5a, B605.1.w1)
  • At birth, lagomorphs actually have three pairs of upper incisors, but they quickly lose the outer incisor on each side. (B147)
  • The incisors are covered completely by enamel. (B147)
  • The upper incisors' roots are found in the skull's premaxillary bones. However, the length of the lower incisors' roots varies. (B147)
    • [Note: lagomorphs have teeth which grow throughout their lives. For this reason the portion of the teeth which is not exposed (not above the gum line) is strictly speaking not a "root"; however, it is sometimes convenient to describe it as a root.]
  • The first upper incisors have a cutting edge which is V-shaped. (B147)
  • The peg teeth lack a cutting edge. (B147)

EYES:
Adult:

General Information

  • Lagomorph eyes are positioned such that they allow for good broad-field vision. (B285.w5a)
  • Hares and rabbits have large eyes which are adapted to both their crepuscular and nocturnal activity patterns. (B285.w5b)
  • Leporids have "large eyes to increase visual acuity in dim light." (B430.w2)

Newborn: --

EARS:

Specific Pronolagus rupestris Information

  • Length: 
    • 6-10 cm. (B285.w5c)
    • 63-109 mm. (B605.8.w8)
  • Short to medium length. (B147)
  • Short ears. (B605.8.w8)

Return to top of page

Legs, Spine and Tracks

Notes

Specific Pronolagus rupestris Information
  • Hindfoot length: 7.5-10 cm. (B285.w5c)
  • Short feet. (B147)
  • Short, blunt claws. (B147)
  • Legs are much shorter than those of Lepus species. (B147)

Return to top of page

Tail

Notes

Specific Pronolagus rupestris Information
  • Length: 5-10 cm. (B285.w5c)
  • Both surfaces are reddish brown to dark brown. The tail is usually bushy. (B147)

Return to top of page

Skin / Coat / Pelage

Notes

Adult:

Specific Pronolagus rupestris Information

  • The coat is thick and woolly, even on the feet, and is a reddish colour. (B147, B285.w5c)
  • Fur appears to pull out easily. (B147)
  • Tail: 
    • Both surfaces are reddish brown to dark brown. The tail is usually bushy. (B147)
    • The tail is a uniform colour, either reddish brown, brown or dark brown. (B605.8.w8)

Adult Colour variations: --

Newborn / Juvenile: --

Return to top of page

Detailed Anatomy Notes
(Summary information provided for pertinent species-specific data cross-referenced in Wildpro)

Notes

Note: There is very little data specific to this species so the details below are from general lagomorph information.

Female reproductive tract

  • Female lagomorphs have between four and ten mammary glands (B147)

Male reproductive tract

  • Males lack a baculum (B147)
  • Testes are in the scrotum located in front of the penis (B147)

Return to top of page

Life Stages / Natural Diet / Physiology

Life Stages

Notes

BREEDING SEASON: --

OESTRUS / OVULATION:

GESTATION / PREGNANCY:

  • The gestation period hares is usually between 37-50 days. (B285.w5b)
  • Under adverse conditions (such as during climatic or social stress), female lagomorphs are able to resorb embryos. (B285.w5a)
  • It is thought that some lagomorph species are able to conceive a second litter even before the last young is born; this is known as superfetation. (B285.w5a)

PARTURITION / BIRTH:

General Information

  • Leverets are precocial and are born into surface-depression forms. (B285.w5b)
  • Females give birth to their young in open areas, or in a shallow depression in the ground. (B147)
  • Leverets remain hidden within dense vegetation, and the female visits them in order to nurse them. (B147)

Specific Pronolagus rupestris Information

  • This species is thought to give birth during the warm, wet summer months. (B147)
  • Born into nests built from plant debris and lined with fur. (B605.8.w8)

Neonatal / Development:

General Information

  • Young are only suckled briefly once every 24 hours. (B285.w5b)
  • Approximately three days after birth, leverets disperse to separate hiding locations. Leveret litter-mates will regroup for a brief suckling bout at a particular location at precisely defined intervals. Such regrouping often takes place around sunset. (B285.w5b)

Specific Pronolagus rupestris Information

  • Altricial young. (B605.8.w8)
  • "Further support for an altricial birth is provided by the study of near-term fetuses which are very sparsely haired." (B605.8.w8)

LITTER SIZE:

Specific Pronolagus rupestris Information

  • Females of this species produce one or two young per litter. (B605.8.w8)
  • Two young were found in one nest. (B287)

TIME BETWEEN LITTERS / LITTERS PER YEAR:

General Information

  • The inter-birth interval in lagomorphs is reduced by the phenomenon of induced ovulation, and post-partum oestrus, which allows females to conceive immediately after she has given birth. (B285.w5a)
  • A female can produce up to three or four litters per year. (B430.w2)

LACTATION / MILK PRODUCTION:

General Information

  • Leporids only release milk once in every 24 hour period. (B285.w5b)
  • Leporid milk has a very high fat and protein content, and as such is highly nutritious. Although the lactation period is brief, the milk is pumped into the young at a high speed.(B285.w5b)
  • The lactation period has a duration of between 17 and 23 days. (B285.w5b)

SEXUAL MATURITY:

General Information

  • Most species of lagomorph reach sexual maturity relatively early. (B285.w5a)

MALE SEASONAL VARIATION: --

LONGEVITY / MORTALITY:

General Information

  • Rabbits and hares in the wild live for less than a year on average; a maximum age of 12 years has been recorded in a couple of species. (B285.w5b)

Return to top of page

Natural Diet

Notes

NATURAL DIET:

General Information

  • Hares mainly eat grasses and herbaceous plants, but do also feed on twigs, buds and bark. (B147)

  • Isolated cases have been reported of hares capturing and eating voles and young lagomorphs. (B147)

Specific Pronolagus rupestris Information

  • Grass and herbs. (B285.w5c)

  • Grasses and young twigs. (B147)

  • From an analysis conducted on the faeces of one individual animal, it appears that more than 90% of the plants ingested by this species are of monocotyledonous origin. (B605.8.w8)

QUANTITY EATEN: --

STUDY METHODS: --

Return to top of page

Hibernation / Aestivation

Notes

--

Return to top of page

Haematology / Biochemistry

Notes

HAEMATOLOGY:--

BIOCHEMISTRY:--

Return to top of page

Detailed Physiology Notes
(Summary information provided for pertinent species-specific data cross-referenced in WILDPro)

Notes

METABOLISM (TEMPERATURE): --

RESPIRATORY SYSTEM (RESPIRATION): --

CIRCULATORY SYSTEM (PULSE/HEART RATE): --

GASTROINTESTINAL SYSTEM (FAECES AND GUT MOTILITY):

General Information

  • Lagomorphs have digestive systems which are adapted for processing large quantities of vegetation. (B285.w5a)
  • Lagomorphs are well adapted for obtaining the greatest possible value from their food. They produce two types of fecal material: moist pellets and dry pellets. The moist pellets are expelled and then eaten (a behaviour known as coprophagy (B285.w5a)); this is done with little or no chewing, and as a result the majority of the food passes through the digestive tract twice (this is thought to have the same function as 'chewing the cud' in ruminants). The dry fecal pellets are not eaten. (B147)

Specific Pronolagus rupestris Information

  • Disc-like faeces. (B605.8.w8)
  • Deposit their faeces in middens. (B605.8.w8)
  • "More than 90% of identifiable plant remains in the faeces of a single Smith's red rockhare...were of monocotyledonous origin." (B605.8.w8)

URINARY SYSTEM (URINE): --

CHROMOSOMES: --

MUSCULO-SKELETAL SYSTEM: --

SPECIAL SENSES AND VOCALISATIONS:

General Information

  • All lagomorphs use scent products secreted from special glands. (B285.w5a) These glands are located under the chins and in the groin, and are believed to play a key role in sexual communication, as well as in signalling social status in some gregarious species. (B285.w5b)
  • Whereas pikas tend to be more vocal, rabbits and hares rely strongly on scent rather than sound as a means of communication. (B285.w5b)
  • High-pitched distress squeals are emitted by leporids when captured by a predator, and specific alarm calls are produced in five rabbit species. (B285.w5b, B430.w2)
  • Hares communicate with each other by drumming their feet. (B147)
  • "When seeking the young for nursing, females call the young and are answered." (B147)

Specific Pronolagus rupestris Information

  • "Utter shrill vocal calls even when not in pain." (B285.w5c)
  • "In apparent contrast to most other leporids, members of this genus emit vocal calls even when not in pain or not being restrained." (B147)
  • When alarmed, this species utters "a loud startling series of screams when racing away at night." (B147)
  • Rockhares are said to be the most vocal of all the African lagomorph species. (B605.8.w8)
  • When disturbed at night, it has been reported that rockhares utter loud startling screams. (B605.8.w8)
  • "Other vocalizations include a churring sound in a hand caught juvenile, and an adult disturbed before sunrise "barked" before fleeing." (B605.8.w8)

Return to top of page

Behaviour

Feeding Behaviour

Notes

General Information
  • Lagomorphs are well adapted for obtaining the greatest possible value from their food. They produce two types of fecal material: moist pellets and dry pellets. The moist pellets are expelled and then eaten; this is done with little or no chewing, and as a result the majority of the food passes through the digestive tract twice (this is thought to have the same function as 'chewing the cud' in ruminants). The dry fecal pellets are not eaten. (B147)
Specific Pronolagus rupestris Information
  • Feed at night in open grassy areas. (B147)
  • Forages individually at night. (B605.8.w8)
  • Grazers. (B605.8.w8)

Return to top of page

Parental Behaviour

Notes

Note: There is very little data specific to this species so the details below are from general leporid information.

General Information

  • Male leporids are not generally involved in care of the young. However, if adult females attack young leporids, males will intervene, a behaviour known as 'policing'. (B285.w5b)
  • Even maternal care of the young is not particularly prominent in leporids, hence this reproductive strategy is known as 'absentee parentism'. (B285.w5a)
  • Leporids demonstrate an unusual system of nursing; the young are suckled only briefly (often less than five minutes) just once every 24 hours. (B285.w5b)
  • It is thought that the lack of social contact between the mother and her young is a strategy which diminishes the chances of attracting the attention of predators. (B285.w5b)
  • The entrances to breeding tunnels are carefully re-sealed following each bout of suckling (B285.w5b)

Return to top of page

Social Behaviour / Territoriality / Predation / Learning

Notes

SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR:

Specific Pronolagus rupestris Information

  • Appear to be gregarious when lying up. However, this may only be the case due to the limited availability of suitable rocky habitat. (B605.8.w8)
  • Appears to be a solitary species. (B605.8.w8)
  • Deposit their faeces in middens, which is thought to have a social function. (B605.8.w8)

PREDATION:

Specific Pronolagus rupestris Information

PREDATOR AVOIDANCE:

General Information

  • Hares will run out into open areas and use their speed in order to avoid predators. (B285.w5b, B605.4.w4)
  • Speeds of up to 72 km/h (45 mph) have been reported for hares. (B285.w5b)
  • "Instead of seeking cover, hares rely on their well-developed running ability to escape from danger: also on camouflage, by flattening on vegetation." (B285.w5c)

Specific Pronolagus rupestris Information

  • "If alarmed, they retreat to an observation boulder near their rocky den, into which they can escape if pursued further. These observation boulders apparently are often used, for accumulations of dung nearby provide a conspicuous sign of the animals' presence." (B147)

POPULATION DENSITIES: --

HOME RANGES AND DISTANCES TRAVELLED: --

TERRITORIALITY:

General Information

  • The majority of hares and rabbits are non-territorial; some hares occupy home ranges of up to 300 ha (740 acres). ranges of individuals may overlap in favoured feeding grounds. (B285.w5b)

Return to top of page

Sexual Behaviour

Notes

General Information
  • All lagomorphs use scent products secreted from special glands. (B285.w5a) These glands are located under the chins and in the groin, and are believed to play a key role in sexual communication, as well as in signalling social status in some gregarious species. (B285.w5b)

Specific Pronolagus rupestris Information

  • "...the female rock rabbit may be accompanied by more than one male during the breeding season." (B605.8.w8)

Return to top of page

Activity Patterns, Self-grooming and Navigation

Notes

ACTIVITY PATTERNS:

Specific Pronolagus rupestris Information

  • In the early morning, they sun themselves on boulders. (B147)
  • Late afternoon/evening: visit feeding grounds. (B147)
  • Rest in forms or crevices during the day. (B605.8.w8)

SELF-GROOMING: --

CIRCADIAN RHYTHM:

Specific Pronolagus rupestris Information

  • Nocturnal. (B285.w5c)

SPEED OF MOVEMENT:

General Information

  • Leporids can run at speeds of up to 80 km/hr. (B147)

NAVIGATION: --

Return to top of page

Habitat and Range

General Habitat Type

Notes

Specific Pronolagus rupestris Information
  • Rocky grassland. (B285.w5c)
  • Rocky areas, usually with crevices in which to hide. (B147)
  • "They also have been known to live at the edge of dense forests, coming out into open grassy areas to feed at night." (B147)
  • "All rockhare species are restricted to rocky situations in association with grass or scrub on hill and mountainsides." (B605.8.w8)

Return to top of page

Nests / Burrows / Shelters

Notes

Specific Pronolagus rupestris Information
  • Takes shelter in crevices. (B147, B285.w5c)
  • During the day, this species remains hidden under or between large rocks. It may hide in vegetation. (B147)
  • Resting sites are lined with fur. (B147)
  • Rest in forms or crevices during the day. (B605.8.w8)
  • The young are born into nests created from plant debris and lined with fur. (B605.8.w8)

Return to top of page

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

Notes

  • Specific Pronolagus rupestris Information
  • Found from South Africa to southwestern Kenya. (B285.w5c)
  • This species is found in two disjunct areas:
    • Southern and central South Africa and southern Namibia.
    • East Africa, from northern Malawi and eastern Zambia northwards through central Tanzania to southwestern Kenya. (B607.w20)
  • "...southwestern Kenya, central Tanzania, eastern Zambia, Malawi, South Africa, southern Namibia." (B147)
  • Widely distributed in the Southern African subregion. Except for areas of coastal forest and the extreme northern parts of the province, this species is found throughout South Africa's Cape Province. (B605.8.w8)
  • "It is found in the Transkei, southern and central Natal, the Orange Free State, southeastern Transvaal and the western fringes of the Nimibian escarpment. Importantly, it occurs extralimitally in Malawi, eastern Zambia, central Tanzania and southwestern Kenya." (B605.8.w8)

Return to top of page

Conservation

Species variation

Notes

Specific Pronolagus rupestris Information

"The rockhares have been subjected to a variety of taxonomic interpretations with one to six species being recognized." (B605.8.w8)

Currently recognised subspecies include:
  • Pronolagus rupestris rupestris: includes Pronolagus rupestris australis; Pronolagus rupestris melanurus; Pronolagus rupestris mulleri. (B607.w20)
  • Pronolagus rupestris curryi. (B607.w20)
  • Pronolagus rupestris nyikae. (B607.w20)
  • Pronolagus rupestris saundersiae: barretti; bowkeri. (B607.w20)
  • Pronolagus rupestris vallicola. (B607.w20)

NB: names in non-bold font are reported as synonyms for that particular subspecies from the reference B607.w20.

Previously recognised subspecies include:

  • In southern Africa:
    • Pronolagus rupestris rupestris. (B605.8.w8)
    • Pronolagus rupestris melanurus. (B605.8.w8)
    • Pronolagus rupestris curryi. (B605.8.w8)
    • Pronolagus rupestris saundersiae. (B605.8.w8)
    • Pronolagus rupestris australis. (B605.8.w8)
    • Pronolagus rupestris fitzsimonsi. (B605.8.w8)
    • Pronolagus rupestris barretti. (B605.8.w8)
  • Outside southern Africa:
    • Pronolagus rupestris nyikae (northern Malawi and eastern Zambia). (B605.8.w8)
    • Pronolagus rupestris vallicola. (Rift Valley, Kenya and possibly northern Tanzania). (B605.8.w8)
  • Pronolagus rupestris mulleri (Now included in australis). (B605.8.w8)
  • Pronolagus crassicaudatus bowkeri has also been considered a subspecies of Pronolagus rupestris. (B605.8.w8)
  • Pronolagus rupestris whitei. (B605.8.w8)

Return to top of page

Conservation Status

Notes

WILD POPULATION - IMPORTANCE: --

GENERAL LEGISLATION: --

CITES LISTING: --

RED-DATA LIST STATUS:

Specific Pronolagus rupestris Information

THREATS: --

PEST STATUS / PEST POPULATIONS: --

CAPTIVE POPULATIONS: --

TRADE AND USE: --

Return to top of page