Cape Hyrax (Rock Hyrax)

The Cape Hyrax or Rock Hyrax, Procavia capensis, is a species in the order Hyracoidae. They live south of Syria, Lebanon, through Israel and North Africa to much of sub-Saharan Africa. They are found in savanna or grassland areas. They live in cavities in rock outcroppings and can often be found in the burrows of other animals including those of aardvarks and meerkats.

The skull of the Cape Hyrax has a pair of long tusk-like incisors and molars that resemble rhinoceros’ molars. The forefeet are plantigrade (walk on the soles of their feet), and the hindfeet semi-digitigrade (walk on the toes). The soles of the feet have large, soft pads that are kept moist with sweat-like secretions. Male hyraxes are slightly larger than females. Cape Hyraxes produce large quantities of hyraceum (sticky mass of dung and urine) that has been employed by people in the treatment of several medical disorders, including epilepsy and convulsions.

Cape Hyrax give birth to two or three young after a 6-7 month gestation period. The young are well-developed at birth with fully-opened eyes and completely covered in fur. Young can ingest solid food after two weeks and are weaned at ten weeks. Young are sexually mature after 16 months, reach adult size at three years, and typically live about ten years. Hyraxes live in herds of up to 80 individuals. These herds are subdivided into smaller flocks consisting of a few families and headed by an adult male. Hyraxes spend most of their time resting in large huddles or basking alone.