Search This Blog

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Species Fact Profile: Rock Hyrax (Procavia capensis)

Rock Hyrax (Dassie)
Procavia capensis (Pallas, 1766)

Range: Sub-Saharan Africa, Southern Arabian Peninsula
Habitat: Mountains, Cliffs, Kopjes (Rock Outcroppings)
Diet: Grasses, Shrubs, Fruits, Leaves
Social Grouping: Groups of up to 25, consisting of a breeding male and several females
Reproduction: Breeding season is August through November,  Female gives birth to up to 6 young after a pregnancy of 202-245 days.  Young grow quickly and are mobile at 1 day old, start eating solids at 2 weeks, and are weaned at 5 months.  Males disperse, looking for a colony that they can live at the periphery of until winning their own.  They are sexually mature at 16 months old.
Lifespan: 10 Years
Conservation Status: IUCN Least Concern

  • Body length 40-58 centimeters, weight 1.8-5.4 kilograms.  Short snout, small ears, short legs, compact body
  • Fur is brownish-gray, often with lighter-colored underparts.  A patch of black or yellow-orange fur on the back marks the scent gland.  The soles of the feet are very soft and pliable, providing excellent traction when climbing rocks.  A hollow on the sole of the foot acts as a suction cup
  • Usually active during the day, hyraxes are sometimes heard calling on moonlit nights.  Most nights are spent hidden in caves and crevices.  Upon awakening, the hyrax usually spends 1-2 hours basking in the sun before becoming active for the day
  • When feeding, one or more individuals will sit atop a high rock or in a branch, acting as lookouts.  At the approach of a predator (such as leopards, pythons, and eagles), the lookout will yelp, sending the colony scurrying for safety
  • Hyrax colonies defecate and urinate in communal spots.  Their urine often crystalizes into white patches on the rocks
  • Sometimes considered an agricultural pest and culled; in other areas hunted for food
  • Although they resemble large guinea pigs, the closest relatives of the hyrax are the elephants.  The hyrax has a similar tooth structure, including two pointed incisors which resemble minuscule tusks
  • Also called the coney, rock hyraxes appear in the Bible and Torah, where they are celebrated as clever animals... though their flesh is still considered unclean.

No comments:

Post a Comment