Rock Hyrax (Procavia capensis)


Family:                    Procaviidae.

Status:                     No special status.

Size:                        Length 12 to 22 in., height 9 to 12 in., weight 7 to 9 lbs.

Diet:                        Herbivore.

Characteristics:        Social, active by day.

Area:                       Africa, Arabian Peninsula.

Offspring:                Two to three.

Predators:               Snakes, eagles, owls, jackals and large cats.



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

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

·       They’re sometimes called dassies as well as rock rabbits (pikas are also called rock rabbits but are unrelated to hyraxes).

·       It’s believed that early hyraxes may have been as large as oxen.

·       When it rains, hyraxes stay in their dens or burrows.

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



Although rock hyraxes are small and resemble woodchucks, they’re actually related to horses and elephants. Like their larger relatives, they live in herds and eat grasses, leaves and fruit. They have small hoofs on their toes. Unable to control their body temperatures, and first thing a hyrax will do in the morning is to lie on a rock and sunbathe until it’s warm. When the weather is too hot, hyraxes escape the heat by staying in the shade. They sleep in rock crevices or burrows at night, huddled together for warmth, but rather than dig their own burrows, they’ll use an abandoned one from another animal such as an aardvark. Their feet secrete a sticky liquid that helps them grip rocks while climbing. The hyrax is a fairly clean animal and the entire hyrax herd uses a common area as a latrine. The herd consists of about 50 to 80 individuals, is 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 found throughout most of Africa (except for the Lowland Rainforests) as well as on the Arabian Peninsula. They live in rocky areas, dry savanna, mountains or forests.



The gestation time for the rock hyrax is an unusually long time—seven months. Breeding occurs in summer with, the young born the following spring. The babies 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, they’re able to run around. Within a week, they begin to eat vegetation and are fully weaned by ten to twelve weeks. Older female siblings help their mother with the new babies. Males usually leave to form their own herds by two years of age, while the females stay with their parents. They’re full grown by three years and can live from eight to twelve years.