BIOPARC Valencia started off the summer with the birth of Rock Hyrax pups! They can be seen sunning themselves on the rocks of the park’s African Savannah exhibit.
The Rock Hyrax (Procavia capensis), or Rock Badger, 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.
Rock Hyraxes give birth to two or three young after a gestation period of 6–7 months (long, for their size). The young are well developed at birth with fully opened eyes and complete pelage. Young can ingest solid food after two weeks and are weaned at ten weeks.
After 16 months, the Rock Hyrax becomes sexually mature, they reach adult size at three years, and they typically live about ten years.
Rock Hyraxes produce large quantities of hyraceum (a sticky mass of dung and urine) that is said to have been used as a South African folk remedy, in the treatment of several medical disorders, including epilepsy and convulsions. It has been reported, that hyraceum is now being used by perfumers who tincture it in alcohol to yield a natural animal musk.
They are currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.