Global Glow

Biofluorescent Springhares

Pop quiz: What hops. . . and glows? 

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

We’ve told you about glowing platypuses in Australia. And there are possums in the Americas that glow too! This glow-in-the-dark feature is called biofluorescence. Where else in the world can we find these animal show-offs??

Erik Olson from Northland College, Wisconsin, and team can shine a light on that question. They found more biofluorescent mammals at a natural history museum in Chicago. Shhh! Something glowing this way hops!

It looks like a bunny but it’s actually a SPRINGHARE! Springhares are RODENTS, not rabbits, originally from Southern Africa. 

The team gathered fourteen springhare skin specimens from the museum. When they put them under visible and U-V light along with five living springhares in captivity – voila! Beautiful reddish glow! 

Springhares are the FIRST NATURALLY biofluorescent mammals to be found originally from Africa. Biofluorescence could be a global phenomenon!

This lost pet could be easy to find: four legs, cute button nose – glows in the dark! Answers to “Moonbeam.”

Reference: Olson, E. R., Carlson, M. R., Ramanujam, V. M. S., Sears, L., Anthony, S. E., Anich, P. S., Ramon, L., Hulstrand, A., Jurewicz, M., Gunnelson, A. S., Kohler, A. M., & Martin, J. G. (2021). Vivid biofluorescence discovered in the nocturnal Springhare (Pedetidae). Scientific Reports, 11(1), 4125.