Reproductive biology

Young may be born at any time of the year, a possible reason for which may be the continuous availability of the rhizomes and shoots of couch grasses. The young are born in bare chambers in the burrows. One offspring is produced, although in very rare circumstances pregnant females may carry twin fetuses. Accurate data are lacking on the gestation period but this is believed to be in the region of two months. It has been suggested that the period between conceptions is on the order of 101 days, that the average interval between parturition and conception is 24 days, and that 3.6 is the mean number of pregnancies per year. At birth, the young weigh 9.8-10.6 oz (280-300 g), are well haired and open their eyes on the second day. Juveniles are suckled in the burrow by their mothers, who have two pairs of pectoral mammae, until they reach a weight of 2.75 lb (1,250 g) at six to seven weeks. When they emerge, they are weaned rapidly on a diet of grasses. Spermatogenesis occurs in males when they attain a body weight of 5.5 lb (2,500 g).

The springhare (Pedetes capensis) is listed as Vunerable. (Photo by Tom McHugh/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

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