Scientific Name: Procavia capensis capensis
These small, rodent-looking animals are the closest living relatives of elephants and manatees.
Rock hyraxes are very adaptable, living throughout the African continent and even as high up as Mount Kenya (which summits at 13,000 feet).
STATUS: The rock hyrax is listed as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Rock hyraxes have a large habitat, and many of these areas are protected by local governments. In fact, in Israel, because of a lack of natural predators, they are even in danger of reaching over-population.
HABITAT: Hyraxes are found from Egypt all the way down to South Africa, and also in parts of Turkey, Israel, and other areas along the Arabian Peninsula. They like to live in caves or rocky outcroppings called “kopjes.” As long as they have an enclosed space to make their home in, they can adapt to variable environments, including rainforests and deserts, ranging from sea level to very high altitudes.
DIET: Rock hyraxes eat mostly grass and shrubs that grow near the ground. They get along well with their cousins, the bush hyrax, because bush hyraxes eat leaves, whereas rock hyraxes do not. They get their water mostly from the food they eat and can go for long periods of time during the dry season with little food because of their low metabolic rate.
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Rock hyraxes aren’t rodents but resemble them in many ways. They have a short snout, rounded ears, and a very small tail. Males and females are both around 17 – 21 inches and weigh between 4 and 12 pounds. They can be light or dark brown.
All in the Family
These animals are very social and love to live in groups. All the females in a group will help raise young, and the male will stand as lookout while the rest of the hyraxes eat. Rock hyraxes have trouble controlling their body temperatures, and at night they will all sleep huddled together for warmth. They also love to sunbathe outside their caves during the day.