Two South African Springhares hopped onto the scene at Zoo Berlin this winter: One was born on December 14, and the other arrived on January 12.
Because Springhares are nocturnal, they live their days in reverse at the zoo. Daytime exhibit lights are dimmed to moonlight levels so zoo guests can see the Springhares when they are most active. At night, when the rest of the zoo goes dark, the lights come up and the Springhares go to sleep.
In the wild, Springhares burrow into tunnels during the day, plugging the entrance with loose soil, and forage on leaves and tubers at night. When threatened, Springhares retreat to their burrows for safety.
With powerful back legs for jumping, Springhares can leap more than 15 feet (5m). They are one of the largest of all rodents, and are hunted for food by indigenous peoples in Botswana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Despite being extensively hunted, Springhares are listed as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).