RANGE:Africa and the Middle East
HABITAT:Wide range but dependent on presence of crevices or rock outcroppings
DIET: HERBIVOREShoots, fruit, grasses in the dry season
LIFESPAN:Captive: Up to 11 yrs
Wild: Up to 8.5 yrs
OFFSPRING:1-6 young per litter
LENGTH:17-23 in (44-58 cm)
WEIGHT:4-12 lb (1.8-5.4 kg)
“Where I live”
Rock hyraxes live throughout Africa and the Middle East. They prefer rocky or shrub-covered areas bordering dry savannahs.
“How I live there”
Rock hyraxes live in colonies of 50 or more animals. Each colony is subdivided into smaller family groups consisting of a dominant male, several females, and offspring. Rock hyraxes do not dig burrows. They find shelter in natural rock crevices and outcroppings. They are active during the day and can be seen feeding and sunning themselves near entrances to their shelters. They communicate with twitters, growls, whistles, and shrieks.
Family groups will make short forays into the grasslands to eat. The group will form a circle, facing outward, and watch for predators while eating. The dominant male often gives the alarm cry, sending other members of the group scurrying for safety. Hyraxes eat plants, fruit, and grasses, with grasses making up most of their diet.
Rock hyraxes are well adapted to their rocky terrain and their position on the food chain. They have the equivalent of little suction cups on the bottoms of their feet that provide a secure grip on uneven terrain, and their oversized mouths allow them to eat quickly, which is important because they are most vulnerable to attack when feeding.
“Making my mark”
Hyraxes (rock, bush, and tree hyraxes) are such unique animals that they are classified in their own order. They are the only members of the Hyracoidea order. Although technically most closely related to elephants, their evolutionary paths diverged many millions of years ago. Even so, hyraxes still share numerous features with elephants, including toenails, acute hearing, sensitive foot pads, and tusks (small in hyraxes, big in elephants). Hyraxes also are thought to share remote common ancestry with marine-dwelling sea cows (dugongs and manatees).
“What eats me”
Rock hyraxes are especially vulnerable when feeding. They are eaten by leopards, birds of prey, cobras, caracals, servals, and civets.
Female rock hyraxes give birth to two or three offspring at a time. The babies are well developed at birth and are running around within an hour of birth! The offspring of females in the same family typically stay together in the same nursery group.
Rock hyraxes are not at risk anywhere in their range.