Benny and I subscribe to some interesting listservs... One of the few that is fit to discuss here is a zookeeper and exotic pet group that shares information on raising and feeding exotics as well animal enrichment. We have learned so much about enriching the lives of captive porcupines, pangolins and fruit bats that we could open up a Chucky Cheese targeted to these guys.

Recently, one of the group's members brought our attention to a critter we were not familiar with: the springhaas (also called a springhare). This adorable rodent from Southeast Africa is built much like a kangaroo and hops about on oversized back legs. It is fairly distinct from most rodents in its design as well as its slow birth rate. Mama springhaas give birth to a single mini-springhaas about three times a year. Also unlike most other rodents, the babies are born with fur and the mother cares for them in the burrow for longer than usual, until they are about half-grown.

Springhaas are known for their constant scheming...

Perhaps the strangest thing about springhaas are the unusual rules required for proper care:

1. Keep him out of the light.

2. Don 't get him wet.

3. And the most important rule,
the rule you can never forget... matter how much he cries
or how much he begs, never, never feed him
after midnight.

See the transformation of a baby springhaas from adorable newborn to ungainly adult below the fold...

i-8f91b0170cff300a679e64bf7b008546-springhaas 2 hours old.jpg
2 hours old

i-4e585ea983c13f33c56716c0898e064f-springhaas 1 week old.jpg
One week old

i-339d4761fdfc3066d5ca6c1ebed9e1ea-springhaas three weeks old.jpg
Three weeks old

i-8ae54f1db107fbac45e43a1fea4462b7-springhaas at 5 months.jpg
Five months old (check out those fingernails...)

This is why we advise against purchasing exotic pets, particularly in Chinatown.

For more information and more springhaas pics visit Rainyeeyore

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I've seen those guys at the zoo. They're a lot bigger than one might think.

I watched Gremlins again recently and realized that Gizmo is actually more horrifying than the Gremlin. I don't know what I was thinking as a kid.

By Laughing Stone (not verified) on 30 Nov 2007 #permalink

What happens if you rebel and DO feed them after midnight? Do you just end up with a spoiled pet that learns you'll cater to its needs at all hours, or is there some biological reason it's not advisable?

LOL - I'm loving the Gremlins connection. I've always also believed that these guys were the true inspirationg for Pikachu.

One of the sites I was looking at said that when the mom gives birth to an infant of over one pound. That is like a human giving birth to a 15-25 lb. baby. YOWZA!

By arachnophile (not verified) on 30 Nov 2007 #permalink

Geez Anne-Marie....It'll turn into a gremlin for goodness sake.

By S. Fisher (not verified) on 30 Nov 2007 #permalink

Whoa, that's amazing. I've ever seen anything that looked so much like a step between marsupial and rodent before.

And what's more, it looks ilke someone raided my childhood's imaginings of the ultimate friend/pet.

Now if it could sing catchy songs that impart life lessons about friendship and being yourself, I'd be trying to find one right now.

First, why haven't I been reading your blog all along? I like it!

And - I saw one of these animals briefly in a documentary recently, but thought it was mouse size - what neat critters.

Bee, we have been asking ourselves the same question for over a year! Where've you been!?

Am I the only one who's a little afraid of the springhaas?

I thought that, don't feed them after midnight thing sounded familiar! LOL! I guess I will have to take them off the list of gifts to my nephews and nieces this year! LOL!
Dave Briggs :~)

By Dave Briggs (not verified) on 06 Dec 2007 #permalink

Kinda like giant jerboas.... I note they have chewing habits similar to rabbits, but it sounds like they're much brighter -- and easier to train not to chew on things! (My bunny died seven years ago in another state, and I still have possessions bearing the Mark Of The Beast....)

By David Harmon (not verified) on 15 Feb 2008 #permalink

I love SpringHaas! I used to work at a zoo and ours was named Gizmo! Hehe - adorable guys and yes they are a lot bigger than you might think, about the size of a cat! Gizmo was the coolest animal in the small mamals exhibits! His best friend was a 3 baneded armadillo. I always thought the Springhaas looked just like what Pickachoo might look like if he were real.