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Keywords:

  • springhares;
  • Pedetes capensis;
  • activity patterns;
  • moonlight

Abstract

The activity patterns of springhares Pedetes capensis (Rodentia: Pedetidae) from the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa, were investigated by counting the number of springhares active above ground at regular intervals throughout the night at different times of the year and under different weather conditions and phases of the moon. A combination of time of year, time of night and level of illumination best explained springhare activity, accounting for 43% of the variation in springhare numbers. Springhare activity generally reached its peak soon after dark, thereafter remaining fairly constant throughout most of the night and only decreasing in the 2–4-h period before sunrise. On those nights when the moon either rose or set during the night, this pattern was modified by the level of illumination. Springhares responded to moonlight by reducing above-ground activity, shifting activity to dark, moonless periods of the night, and by reducing their use of open space. Except for extremes, other weather conditions had no significant effect on springhare activity.