The animal on the cover of Python Cookbook, Third Edition is a springhaas (Pedetes capensis), also known as a spring hare. Springhaas are not hares at all, but rather the only member of the family Pedetidae in the order Rodentia. They are not marsupials, but they are vaguely kangaroo-like, with small front legs, powerful hind legs designed for hopping, jumping, and leaping, and long, strong, bushy (but not prehensile) tails used for balance and as a brace when sitting. They grow to be about 14 to 18 inches long, with tails as long as their bodies, and can weigh approximately eight pounds. Springhaas have rich, glossy, tawny, or golden-reddish coats with long, soft fur and white underbellies. Their heads are disproportionately large, and they have long ears (with a flap of skin at the base they can close to prevent sand from getting inside while they are digging) and large, dark brown eyes.

Springhaas mate throughout the year and have a gestation period of about 78 to 82 days. Females generally give birth to only one baby (which stays with its mother until it is approximately seven weeks old) per litter but have three or four litters each year. Babies are born with teeth and are fully furred, with their eyes closed and ears open.

Springhaas are terrestrial and well-adapted for digging, and they tend to spend their days in the small networks of their burrows and tunnels. They are nocturnal and primarily herbivorous, feeding on bulbs, roots, grains, and occasionally insects. While they are foraging, they move about on all fours, but they are able to move 10 to 25 feet in a single horizontal leap and are capable of quick getaways when frightened. Although they are often seen foraging in groups in the wild, they do not form an organized social unit and usually nest alone or in breeding pairs. Springhaas can live up to 15 years in captivity. They are found in Zaire, Kenya, and South Africa, in dry, desert, or semiarid areas, and they are a favorite and important food source in South Africa.

The cover image is from Animal Creation: Mammalia. The cover font is Adobe ITC Garamond. The text font is Adobe Minion Pro; the heading font is Adobe Myriad Condensed; and the code font is Dalton Maag’s Ubuntu Mono.