Who would’ve thought? You would never guess by looking at them, but rock hyraxes are the elephant’s nearest living relative!
Habitat: Rock hyraxes live in rocky areas in the desert, savanna, and scrubland across central and southern African and the Arabian Peninsula.
Diet: They eat mainly grasses, leaves, flowers, bark, roots, and lichen (plant).
Family Life: When rock hyrax pups are born, they look like mini adults! They are precocial, meaning that they are born with their eyes and ears open. While a single male will mate with five to seven females, female rock hyraxes will remain with their families forever. During their breeding season, males will become increasingly more territorial, as evident by the higher rates of calling and aggression.
The rock hyrax’s endangered status is listed as least concern.
- Rock hyraxes have several natural predators including leopards, snakes, eagles, jackals, and wild dogs. They have been known to escape their predators by playing dead or by working together to scare off smaller predators from the safety of a burrow.
- While rock hyraxes are hunted for their meat throughout their geographic range and have experienced smaller local dangers, there are no major threats to the long-term persistence of this species.
- By eating large amounts of food quickly — their whole day’s worth in two 20 minute sittings — and spending the rest of their time resting, they are able to survive in harsh environments where there is not enough food for other, more active mammals of their size. In fact, they spend 95% of their time resting!
- Rock hyraxes use an array of different sounds including grunts, wails, squeals, snorts, twitters, growls, whistles, and shrieks to communicate. A happy, friendly rock hyrax makes a squeaky whistle sound. However, a sharp bark is a warning call that danger is near.
CLASS: Mammalia (mammals)
ORDER: Hyracoidea (hyraxes)
FAMILY: Procaviidae (hyraxes)
GENUS: Procavia (rock hyrax)
SPECIES: Procavia capensis (rock hyrax)
LIFE SPAN: 5 years
HEIGHT: 8 – 12 inches at the shoulder (20 – 30 cm)
WEIGHT: 4 – 13 pounds (1.8 – 5.9 kg)
LENGTH: 1 – 2 feet (0.3 – 0.6 m)