Rock Hyrax

Photo: redOrbit

Rock Hyrax, Procavia capensis, is a small marmot-like mammal with short stump for a tail, and padded soles adapted for increased traction allowing them negotiate steep and often smooth rock surfaces with great ease. The sweating feet also help in the animal’s climbing behavior. Rock hyraxes do not dig burrows and do not have adaptive features for it. Although their body size and front teeth make them look like rodents, hyraxes are in fact distantly related to elephants. They have a single pair of long, strong, tusk-like incisors, which the Yoruba say in a proverb, bears testimony to its grass-eating nature. Fruits and Lizards are also included in diet. This animal, found in large population in Idanre Hills, is praised in the bible for “making their homes in the rocky hills and cliffs of the countryside”. They are distributed across sub-Saharan extending higher the Niger River in Nigeria.

Unlike its Western Tree hyrax cousin which lives solitarily or in small groups, the Rock Hyrax live in colonies of 50 or so in natural crevices of rocks or boulders. Also, the Rock Hyrax has a more rounded head than other Hyrax species, which have more pointed, rodent-like noses. They also differ in being active mainly during the day. Physically, they are much like Tree Hyrax, but with shorter hair and black, not white, hair over the dorsal gland.

Gestation period is for some 7.5 months and lifespan in the wild is about 4-5 years.