The rock hyrax, which looks like a big guinea pig with a grumpy overbite, is not what he looks to be.
The hairy species is known by various names, including “rock badger,” “rock rabbit,” and “dassie,” and is native to Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. Because the hyrax is about the size and form of a groundhog, it’s no wonder that no one knows what type of animal he is – because he isn’t a rodent at all.
On land, the hyrax has the status of being the elephant’s closest living cousin.
Despite the fact that the hyrax is thousands of pounds heavier than elephants and manatees, their toes, teeth, and bones are remarkably pachyderm-like. The hyrax’s vampiric bottom teeth resemble small tusks, giving the animal a perpetually unhappy appearance. And their stretchy feet’s toes have rounded hoof-like nails rather of the sharp, curled claws of certain rodents.
Like elephants, the little animals live in close family groupings, but enjoy arid, rocky terrain.
“Rock hyraxes are daily [active mostly during the day] sociable creatures that stay in family groups in rocky outcroppings or trees. They are vegetarians that are encroached upon by raptors and pythons, according to Nicci Wright, a wildlife rehabilitation expert at the Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital in South Africa. “The young are born precocial, which means they have fur, eyes open, and are physically mobile at birth.
If space allows, these tiny animals dwell in colonies of up to 80 individuals. Most of the time, the animals can be found lounging and soaking up some sunshine before heading off as a group to search for food.
Apart from snakes, these sociable small animals now have to worry about growing towns. From Jerusalem to Johannesburg, their hunger for shoots, leaves, and blossoming flowers doesn’t help them in city cores.
“Due to growing urbanization, dassies in urban areas are under risk of habitat loss,” Wright added. “As a result, they are forced to enter people’s homes and look through their gardens. Dasies have been known to migrate into roof areas, which may be a problem.”
Rock hyraxes frequently end up in places they shouldn’t be. An adult hyrax extracted from a vehicle engine and a young discovered in the jaws of a cat were two rescued hyraxes that just arrived at Wright’s clinic.
When they first met, they did what all rock hyraxes do: became friends.
Wright explained, “We exposed the infant to the sub-adult so they could bond and the baby could learn from the older animal.” “They were both transferred into an outdoor cage when the baby was old enough, where they could sunbathe and become accustomed to the elements.”
The two creatures were soon ready to be released back into the wild.
In a Facebook post, the Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital said, “the infant connected with an adult male dassie and rapidly learnt to graze on a range of indigenous grasses and leaves.” “They were placed into an existing colony after finding a good release site with a small gorge and rocky outcrop.”
Despite the fact that they are not included on the IUCN Red List as an endangered species, these strange tiny animals deserve to be noticed.
The Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital said, “We receive frequent calls concerning dassies.” “As our cities grow, their habitats diminish, potentially resulting in human-wildlife conflict.”