Rock dassie, Dassie, Rock badger, Cape hyrax
The Rock hyrax (Procavia capensis) is a medium-sized terrestrial mammal native to Africa and the Middle East. It is also commonly referred to in South Africa as the dassie. These cute animals are the only extant terrestrial afrotherians in the Middle East. Along with other hyrax species and the sirenians, Rock hyraxes are the most closely related to the elephant.
Diurnal animals are active during the daytime, with a period of sleeping or other inactivity at night. The timing of activity by an animal depends ...
An omnivore is an animal that has the ability to eat and survive on both plant and animal matter. Obtaining energy and nutrients from plant and ani...
Terrestrial animals are animals that live predominantly or entirely on land (e.g., cats, ants, snails), as compared with aquatic animals, which liv...
Precocial species are those in which the young are relatively mature and mobile from the moment of birth or hatching. Precocial species are normall...
Grazing is a method of feeding in which a herbivore feeds on plants such as grasses, or other multicellular organisms such as algae. In agriculture...
Browsing is a type of herbivory in which an herbivore (or, more narrowly defined, a folivore) feeds on leaves, soft shoots, or fruits of high-growi...
A territory is a sociographical area that which an animal consistently defends against the conspecific competition (or, occasionally, against anima...
Among animals, viviparity is the development of the embryo inside the body of the parent. The term 'viviparity' and its adjective form 'viviparous'...
Polygyny is a mating system in which one male lives and mates with multiple females but each female only mates with a single male.
Colonial animals live in large aggregations composed of two or more conspecific individuals in close association with or connected to, one another....
A dominance hierarchy (formerly and colloquially called a pecking order) is a type of social hierarchy that arises when members of animal social gr...
NoNot a migrant
Animals that do not make seasonal movements and stay in their native home ranges all year round are called not migrants or residents.
The Rock hyrax is an unusual creature that lacks tail. The coat of this animal is dense and varies greatly in color. However, the upper parts of the hyrax are usually brownish-grey, whereas the underparts are lighter. On its back, the Rock hyrax exhibits a characteristic marking, colored in black, yellow, or orange. Underneath this patch, the animal has a special gland, giving off a specific odor. The hyrax also possesses moist and rubber-like foot soles, allowing it to easily grasp objects when climbing steep rocks of its range.
The natural range of Rock hyrax covers a huge territory, including most of sub-Saharan Africa (except for the Congo basin and Madagascar) and northeastern Africa, stretching eastwards to the western and southern coasts of the Arabian Peninsula. The preferred habitat of this species is arid areas such as deserts, savannas, and scrub forests as well as rocky terrains with moderate vegetation. Rock hyraxes typically favor places with abundant rock crevices and cavities, since the latter are used as shelters.
The Rock hyraxes are highly sociable animals, forming groups of 2-26 individuals. These colonies usually consist of one breeding male and multiple adult females with their young. Occasionally, subordinate males can be observed in these groups. Although they are generally active by day, these animals have also been known to be active and communicate through calls during moonlit nights. Coming out of their shelters, they take sunbaths for 1-2 hours in order to warm up. Rock hyraxes start foraging by afternoon. During overcast, rainy, or cold days, these animals rarely come out of their shelters. Meanwhile, they tend to remain in shady sites during extremely hot days. As grazers, hyraxes feed on the ground, sometimes climbing trees to feed on fresh leaves. They feed in groups, where the breeding male or a female always stands guard on a high rock or tree branch: once a threat is detected, the animal emits a sharp barking call, which acts as an alarm, after which members of the group flee to their shelters. Rock hyraxes use a wide variety of vocalizations to communicate with conspecifics. These include whistles, mews, high-pitched tones, shrieks, and other sounds, which serve group members as a form of daily communication or alarm when threatened.
Rock hyraxes are omnivorous animals. They mainly consume herbs, grasses, fruit, and leaves, supplementing their diet with small lizards, insects, and eggs of birds, caught when sunbathing on local rocks.
Rock hyraxes have a polygynous mating system, where one male mates with 3-7 females, controlling them in a territory of up to 4000 square meters. Breeding occurs depending on geographical location. Thus, the population in Israel mates in August-September, whereas those in Kenya typically mate in August-November. The gestation period lasts for 202-245 days, yielding 1-6 babies in a rocky crevice. Newly born young are well-developed, starting to move around with ease by the second day of their lives. At 3-4 days old, they are ready to eat food, whereas solid food is included in their diet during the first 2 weeks. Weaning occurs at 3 months old. The age of reproductive maturity for this species is 16 months old. However, young hyraxes attain their adult size and weight only after 3 years old.
The Rock hyraxes currently face habitat loss across much of their original range due to land clearing for agriculture as well as increased development of human settlements. In many areas of its range, the Rock hyraxes are considered pests due to damaging crops. As a result, in South Africa, there have been campaigns, intended to cull this species. In other areas such as Egypt, these animals are hunted for their meat.
According to IUCN, the Rock hyrax is abundant in some areas and widely but no overall population estimate is available. However, this species is currently classified as Least Concern (LC) and its numbers remain stable.
As a key herbivore of its range, the Rock hyrax controls the growth of local vegetation. In addition, this animal is an important prey species for leopards, wild dogs, raptors, and other predators.