Apr 11, 2012

Cape hyrax (Procavia capensis)

Did you know?

It is believed that hyraxes are the closest relatives of elephants? This hypothesis is based on anatomical similarities in the teeth, legs and foot bones, testes (not descend into a scrotum) and other unclear details.

The hyraxes are small mammals such as marmots with a head-body length of 45-60 cm and a 2.5 to 4.6 kg body weight. The upper incisors are triangular in section and always growing, as in rodents. The fur is gray brown back and creamy underneath, dense, with a thick coat, but the back is a hairless area with a dorsal gland that produces the characteristic odor of the species. The gland is surrounded by erectile hairs yellow, orange, brown or black.

The hyraxes are predominantly diurnal, gregarious animals, living in small to large colonies, which are often betrayed by urine stains on the rocks, and piles of droppings in selected locations. The crystallized urine, ‘Hyracidium’ are sold for folk medicine in South Africa. The hyraxes are herbivorous grazers and browsers in a variety of plants. The food is usually on the ground, but climb trees to feed on the leaves, bark, flowers, pods and fruits. Females give birth to 1-4, usually 2-3 pups: completely bare, with eyes open, and able to move shortly after birth. Birth weight varies with litter size between 150 and 300 g. Life expectancy in the wild is about 4-5 years.

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