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Rock Hyrax

Rock Hyrax
Procavia capensis

Family:

Procaviildae, Hyrax family

Conservation Status:

Least concern, IUCN

Distribution:

Most of Africa and the Middle East

Habitat:

Rocky arid land including deserts, savannas and scrub forests

Factoid:

About 55 million years ago the elephant and hyrax shared a common ancestor

Looking very much like a large guinea pig the Rock Hyrax is approximately 16–23 inches long. It weighs between 4 and 12 pounds. It has a dense, coarse coat that is yellow-brown to dark brown in color. They have feet that act like suction cups, enabling them to maneuver ledges easily. Rock Hyrax like to have places to sun themselves with brush and trees for cover and cavities for shelter and refuge. Unable to thermoregulate their temperature effectively, hyrax use the environment to help maintain their temperature.

They are herbivorous, mostly feeding on grass. When grass is unpalatable they will browse on bushes, eat fruits and succulents and will use their curved front teeth to strip bark from trees. Even though they get sufficient moisture from their food, they will drink water if it is available.

The social structure of the Rock Hyrax consists of a male and his harem. The harem consists of two to 26 females and their young, depending upon suitable habitat. Usually a harem includes four to 10 related females. It is the male who is dominant and defends his harem and territory.

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