Rock hyrax

Rock hyrax
Rock hyrax (Procavia capensis) 2.jpg
Erongo, Namibia
Scientific classification
Storr, 1780
Species:P. capensis
Binomial name
Procavia capensis[2]
(Pallas, 1766)
Rock Hyrax area.png
Rock hyrax range

The rock hyrax (Procavia capensis), also called rock badger,[citation needed] rock rabbit, and Cape hyrax, is commonly referred to in South African English as the dassie. It is one of the four living species of the order Hyracoidea, and the only living species in the genus Procavia.[2]Like all hyraxes, it is a medium-sized (~4 kg) terrestrial mammal, with short ears and tail.

The closest living relatives to hyraxes are the modern-day elephants and sirenians. The rock hyrax is found across Africa and the Middle East in habitats with rock crevices into which it escapes from predators. It is the only extant terrestrial afrotherian in the Middle East. Hyraxes typically live in groups of 10–80 animals, and forage as a group. They have been reported to use sentries: one or more animals take up position on a vantage point and issue alarm calls on the approach of predators.

The rock hyrax has incomplete thermoregulation and is most active in the morning and evening, although its activity pattern varies substantially with season and climate.

Over most of its range, the rock hyrax is not endangered, and in some areas is considered a minor pest. In Ethiopia, Israel and Jordan, it is a reservoir of the leishmaniasis parasite.


The dorsal gland can be seen here as a patch of fur with a lighter colouration
The characteristic foot pads
Frontal view of rock hyrax
The unusual incisors

The rock hyrax is squat and heavily built, adults reaching a length of 50 cm (20 in) and weighing around 4 kg (8.8 lb), with a slight sexual dimorphism, males being approximately 10% heavier than females. Their fur is thick and grey-brown, although this varies strongly between different environments: from dark brown in wetter habitats, to light gray in desert living individuals.[3] Hyrax size (as measured by skull length and humerus diameter) is correlated to precipitation, probably because of the effect on preferred hyrax forage.[4]

Prominent in and apparently unique to hyraxes is the dorsal gland, which excretes an odour used for social communication and territorial marking. The gland is most clearly visible in dominant males.[5]

The head of the rock hyrax is pointed, having a short neck with rounded ears. They have long black whiskers on their muzzles.[6] The rock hyrax has a prominent pair of long, pointed tusk-like upper incisors which are reminiscent of the elephant, to which the hyrax is distantly related. The forefeet are plantigrade, and the hind feet semi-digitigrade. The soles of the feet have large, soft pads that are kept moist with sweat-like secretions. In males, the testes are permanently abdominal, another anatomical feature that hyraxes share with their relatives elephants and sirenians.[5]

Thermoregulation in the rock hyrax has been subject to much research, as their body temperature varies with a diurnal rhythm. However, animals kept in constant environmental conditions also display such variation[5] and this internal mechanism may be related to water balance regulation.[7]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Klipdassie
አማርኛ: አሽኮኮ
العربية: وبر صخري
беларуская: Капскі даман
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Капскі даман
български: Скалист даман
brezhoneg: Daman ar C'hab
čeština: Daman skalní
Esperanto: Rokhirako
한국어: 바위너구리
hrvatski: Daman kamenjar
Bahasa Indonesia: Hiraks batu
עברית: שפן סלע
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Să-huăng
Nederlands: Kaapse klipdas
português: Procavia capensis
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Planinski pećinar
svenska: Klipphyrax
українська: Даман капський
Tiếng Việt: Procavia capensis
粵語: 蹄兔
中文: 蹄兔