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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Family: Leporidae (hares, rabbits)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Synapsida (mammal-like reptiles) > Therapsida > Theriodontia >  Cynodontia > Mammalia (mammals) > Placentalia (placental mammals) > Euarchontaglires > Glires > Lagomorpha (rabbits, hares and pikas)

Species indigenous to southern Africa

Lepus capensis (Cape hare)

Lepus saxatilis (Scrub hare)

Pronolagus rupestris (Smith's red rock rabbit)


Pronolagus saundersia (Hewitt's red rock rabbit)

Pronolagus crassicaudatus (Natal red rock rabbit)


Pronolagus randensis (Jameson's red rock rabbit)


Bunolagus monticularis (Riverine rabbit)

The Riverine Rabbit is endemic to the central Karoo Desert of theNorthern and Western Cape where it occupies a specialised riverine habitat that has been considerably reduced and fragmented as a result of agricultural practices. Hence the species is now considered Critically Endangered and efforts are being made to conserve the wild population.  It is the only indigenous burrowing rabbit in Africa and depends on the soft alluvial soils in the river floodplains to construct stable breeding stops (burrows). It is solitary and nocturnal, feeding at night and resting during the day in shallow depressions (forms) that are scraped out under Karoo shrubs. One or two helpless young (“kittens”) are born during August through May. They are blind, hairless and reared in a lined burrow. Population growth is very slow as a female only produces an average of 4 young in her lifetime of two to three years.



Species naturalised in southern Africa

Oryctolagus cuniculus (European rabbit)

Naturalised on guano islands off South Africa; also on Robben Island.