Hyrax

Four New ‘Rock’ Stars at Chester Zoo

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Four baby Rock Hyraxes have been born at Chester Zoo, in the UK. The tiny quartet arrived on July 25, after a seven-month gestation, weighing just a few ounces.

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4_RockHyrax-13Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

As soon as Rock Hyrax babies are born, they look like miniature adults, with their eyes and ears open, sporting the same coat. And despite being small in stature, the species actually has an incredible genetic link to the elephant.

Nick Davis, assistant curator of mammals at the zoo, said, “It’s quite an oddity, but Rock Hyraxes and elephants share a number of common features. For example, a small mammal would typically go through a short gestation period, but the Rock Hyrax is different, with pregnancies lasting over seven months (245 days) – highlighting a connection to their much larger relatives.”

“There are also other physical similarities between the two species, such as the shape of their feet and their continually growing incisors, which are reminiscent of an elephant’s tusks,” Davis continued.

The Rock Hyrax (Procavia capensis) is one of the four living species of the order Hyracoidea, and the only living species in the genus Procavia. Like all hyraxes, it is a medium-sized terrestrial mammal, superficially resembling a guinea pig with short ears and tail. The closest living relatives to hyraxes are the modern-day elephants and sirenians (sea cow).

The species lives primarily in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, where it is known natively as a ‘dassie’ or ‘rock rabbit’. As their name indicates, Rock Hyraxes occupy habitats dominated by rocks and large boulders, including mountain cliffs, where they use their moist and rubber-like soles to gain a good grip to clamber around steep slopes.

They typically live in groups of 10 to 80 animals, and forage as a group. They feed on a wide variety of plants and have been known to eat insects and grubs. They have been reported to use sentries: one or more animals take up position on a vantage point and issue alarm calls on the approach of predators. They are said to have excellent eyesight. They are able to survive their dry habitat by getting most of their water from food supplies.

They are currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

More amazing pics, below the fold!

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Rock Hyrax Siblings Enjoying the Scottish Sunshine

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The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s Edinburgh Zoo recently welcomed two baby Rock Hyraxes. They were born in the middle of February to mum, ‘Sarabi’.

The youngsters, one male and one female, have been staying in their burrow, but the two are now starting to jump out to explore their surroundings in the Scottish sun. These small creatures are probably most well known for their distant relation to the elephant, and they often look as if they are smiling happily for the camera. 

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15_4_29_Rock_Hyrax__Babies_1_GKCPhoto Credits: RZSS

This is the first time mum Sarabi has bred, and the babies are doing well. Hyrax babies are quite fully developed when they are born and normally start running and jumping within an hour after birth. The youngsters will suckle until they are three months old, but often begin to eat plants from their second day. Rock Hyrax litters normally consist of two to three young, but they can sometimes have as many as four babies in one litter. Unlike other small mammals, the Rock Hyrax has a much longer gestation period of seven and a half months.

Fossil remains show that there were once Hyraxes the size of cows, which could explain the longer gestation period. These rock-dwelling mammals are so unique that they have been placed in a separate order by themselves, Hyracoidea. Rock Hyraxes are normally grouped with elephants, dugongs and sea cows as ‘subungulates’ and it is believed they all may have descended from a common stock.

Lorna Hughes, Animal Team Leader at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo said, “Our Rock Hyrax babies are doing really well, and they were up and running about, soon after they were born. We haven’t named them yet, as we normally wait a while before we name any new-born. People are always really fascinated and interested when we tell them the Hyraxes are distant relatives of the elephant.”

“The Rock Hyraxes, here at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, love basking in the sun, and can often be seen lazing about on the rocks; this is because Rock Hyraxes have poorly developed thermoregulation. When it’s cold and rainy, as is often typical of Scottish weather, they prefer to stay in their burrows to try keep warm, but now with summer approaching they are often seen outside enjoying the sun,” Lorna continued.

The Rock Hyrax can be found across Africa and some parts of the Middle East. They love to hang out on rocky areas and prefer to hide in the nooks of cliff faces. They have black rubbery pads under their feet which help them to grip onto rocky and slippery surfaces.  Hyraxes are very adaptable creatures; in East Africa they can be found living at sea level and at altitudes of more than 14,000 feet. Their habitats also range from dry savannah to dense rainforest.

RZSS Edinburgh Zoo is currently home to six adult rock hyraxes and the two babies. The herd lives in a large rocky enclosure with plenty of rocks and crevices for them to jump and run about. 

More great pics, below the fold!

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Rock Hyrax Quad Born at Chester Zoo

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Chester Zoo, in Upton-by-Chester, Chester, UK, recently welcomed four baby Rock Hyraxes!  Born July 20, at the zoo's African Painted Dog Exhibit, the quad of babies were just a few ounces at birth, and they looked like miniature versions of their parents, with eyes and ears open.

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RockHyrax_5Photo Credits: Steve Rawlins

Despite their diminutive size, the Rock Hyrax has a remarkable genetic link to the elephant!  Curator of Mammals at Chester Zoo, Tim Rowlands, said:  “Rock Hyraxes and elephants share several common features. They have similar toes, teeth and skull structures and Rock Hyraxes also have two large continually growing incisors, which correspond to an elephant’s tusks.  And whereas small mammals normally have a short pregnancy period, for the Rock Hyrax it lasts for around seven and a half months (245 days), another sign of their relation to their much larger ancestors.”

Rock Hyraxes are native to Africa, but they can also be found along the coast of the Arabian Peninsula, as well as Israel, where they are protected by law.  As their name suggests, they live in rocky terrain, seeking shelter and protection in rugged outcrops or cliffs.  In the wild, they typically live in colonies of about 80 individuals, subdivided into smaller families.

The Rock Hyrax is a forager.  Feeding in groups, with one or more posted as a sentry, they prefer a diet of grasses, broad-leaf plants, and an occasional insect or grub.  They obtain most of their water from food sources.

Rock Hyrax feet are built for climbing.  The bottom of each foot is bare and has a moist, rubbery pad that provides a suction-cup effect to aid in clinging to rocks.

Although, currently not endangered, the sociable Rock Hyrax serves as an important ambassador for species preservation.  


These Tiny Rock Hyrax Babies the Closest Living Relative to the Elephant

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On July 21, four tiny Rock Hyraxes - a species with a remarkable genetic link to the elephant - were born at Chester Zoo. This is the first set of Hyrax babies for the zoo.

Small and stocky and resembling miniature adults almost immediately, Rock Hyrax babies weigh just a few ounces! But despite their Guinea pig-like appearance, the species is in fact the closest living relative of the elephant - sharing several common features. Not only do they have acute hearing and hooves rather than claws on their toes, they have two large continually growing incisors, which correspond to an elephant’s tusks. And whereas small mammals normally have a short pregnancy period, the gestation for the Rock Hyrax lasts for around 7.5 months (245 days) - another sign of their relation to their much larger ancestors. 

Rock Hyraxes are native to Africa but can also be found along the coast of the Arabian Peninsula. As their name suggests, they live in rocky terrain, seeking shelter and protection in rugged outcrops or cliffs.

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Photo Credit: Gemma Boden


Rock Hyraxes Play "Hide and Seek" at Virginia Zoo

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Three new baby Rock Hyraxes are receiving visitors at the Virginia Zoo's Africa - Okavango Delta exhibit.  Born July 5, the little mammals can now be seen with the four adults in the Hyrax habitat –but visitors may have to work to find them.

"Like their parents, the babies like to wedge themselves into crevices, so look for them in between the rocks," said Greg Bockheim, the Virginia Zoo's executive director. He added that the adults often sit high on the rocks and freeze in place to avoid being seen, and that the babies will develop similar behavior as they grow.

Hyraxes are small, heavy-set mammals native to Africa and the Middle East. Their feet have rubbery pads with numerous sweat glands, which together form a kind of suction cup that helps their grip when climbing steep, rocky surfaces.

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Photo Credit:  Virginia Zoo / Winfield Danielson

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Baby Hyraxes Pop into the Maryland Zoo

ZooBorns contributor Nikon Doll captured these shots of the Maryland Zoo's baby Rock Hyraxes last week. Rock Hyraxes use "sentries" - one or more inidividuals which warn of approaching danger from a high vantage point. Although they might look like rodents, they are actually a fairly close relative of elephants and manatees! That being said, for relatives of manatees, the video below proves they are pretty speedy!

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Photo Credoits: Nikon Doll

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