Biofluorescent Springhares

Olson, E.R., Carlson, M.R., Ramanujam, V.M.S. et al. (2021)

I would imagine that just about everyone associates pink rabbits with Easter and children’s toy stores. Think again. Biofluorescent springhares are real animals. And they are biofluorescent (not to be confused with bioluminescent).

If an animal is biofluorescent, it means that the animal absorbs short wavelengths like blue light and emits it as longer wavelengths of a different color (red, orange, yellow, and green) when viewed with ultraviolet light. In the case of the springhares, we see them as pink. It’s almost as if the springhares glow.

There are two species of these hares that are biofluorescent, both of which are found in Africa. And, despite being called hares, these nocturnal creatures are actually rodents. Scientists are increasingly discovering mammal species (as well as birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish) with this same quality, yet are still unclear about the ecological importance. Most, though, are nocturnal or crepuscular, suggesting that animals that are active in low light environments use the biofluorescent cues for mate selection, avoiding predators, and foraging.