Zigzagging hot rod

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Renowned for drifting all over the map in front of cars at night, the scrub hare employs this nifty technique to avoid predators. These chaps also are known for their deft boxing skills when trying to impress a lady during mating season. Unfortunately, females are sometimes injured when male competition is fierce.

With their distinct colouration of black-spotted grizzled-gray on the dorsal side and pure white on the ventral side, Lepus saxatilis have long, perched-up gray ears – a big give-away for predators. A small, stubby black tail completes the picture.

With their ecological niche being soil aeration, scrub hares inhabit scrub, grasslands, agriculturally developed lands and savannah woodlands. As herbivores they eat mostly green grasses. But when times are tough, they’ll consume leaves, stems, grass rhizomes and even shrub bark.

Solitary and nocturnal, these creatures rest during the day, creating a small indent in the ground and lying flat with ears tucked back – the perfect camouflage. Vocal in distress, they chirp loudly when disturbed in an open habitat.

Breeding is from September to February and the gestation period is about 42 days. Females can have up to four litters a year and can even give birth to triplets after a particularly rainy season. The leverets are born fully haired, open-eyed and are sufficiently developed to take care of themselves. Scoring zero for good parenting, mom only nurses her young for a few nights and then the little ones have to face the big bad world on their own.

Photo: Joanna Covington; Ref: animalia.bio, krugerpark.co.za.