Rock Hyrax (Procavia capensis)


Class: Mammalia
Order: Hyracoidea
Family:    Procaviidae
Size:    Height: 9 to 12 inches (23 to 30 cm)  Length: 12 to 22 inches (30 to 56 cm)
Weight: 7 to 9 pounds (3 to 4 kg)
Diet: Leaves, grasses and fruit
Distribution: Africa and the Arabian Peninsula
Young:  2 to 3, once per year
Animal Predators:  Snakes, eagles, owls, jackals and large cats
IUCN Status: No special status
Terms: Group: Herd
Lifespan: 8 to 12 years



·       The term cony (aka coney) in the Bible actually refers to the hyrax.

·       Congealed hyrax urine and feces (hyraceum) are used to treat human epilepsy.

·       They are sometimes called “dassies” as well as “rock rabbits” (pikas are also called rock rabbits, but are unrelated to hyraxes).

·       It is believed that many years ago, hyraxes may have been as large as oxen.

·       When it rains, hyraxes stay in their den or burrow.

·       Hyraxes can eat certain plants that are poisonous to other animals.

·       They are also known as “cape hyraxes.”



Although rock hyraxes are small and resemble woodchucks, they are actually related to elephants. They have small hooves on their toes. Their fur is brown and they have small, rounded ears. There are long, tactile whiskers covering their body, which enable them to feel their way in the dark. They have elongated incisors that resemble elephant tusks. 



Rock hyraxes are found throughout most of Africa (except for lowland rainforests) as well as on the Arabian Peninsula. They live in rocky areas, dry savannah, mountains or forests.


Feeding Habits

Like their larger relatives, rock hyraxes live in herds and eat grasses, leaves and fruit. 



The gestation period for rock hyraxes lasts an unusually long time—seven months. Breeding occurs in the summer with the young born the following spring. The young are born fully furred, with their eyes open. The mother has two nipples close to her shoulders, and four on her lower belly. Within a few hours of their birth, the young are able to run around. Within a week, they begin to eat vegetation and are fully weaned by 10 to 12 weeks. Older female siblings help their mother with the new babies. Young males usually leave to form their own herds by two years of age, while the females stay with their parents. They are full grown by three years.  



Unable to control their body temperature, the first thing that hyraxes do in the morning is to lie on a rock, sunbathing until warm. When the weather is too hot, hyraxes escape the heat by staying in the shade. They sleep in a rock crevice or burrow at night, huddled together for warmth, but rather than dig their own burrow, they will use an abandoned one from another animal, such as an aardvark. Their feet secrete a sticky liquid that enables them to grip rocks while climbing. Hyraxes are fairly clean animals and the entire hyrax herd uses a common area as a latrine. The herd consists of about 50 to 80 individuals, led by a dominant male, and consists of females and their young. They graze in a circle facing outwards, to keep track of approaching predators. A shrill shriek is the warning signal to alert the others to a possible predator. The two long incisor teeth are used for defence only—when eating, a rock hyrax turns its head and bites its food with its side teeth. Rock hyraxes are closely related to bush hyraxes and the two species interact peacefully, even sharing dens at night and allowing their youngsters to play together.



The rock hyrax is not of conservation concern at this time. 



Rock Hyrax Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US

International Wildlife, March-April 1991