Hyraxes are rotund herbivorous mammals native to parts of Africa and the Middle East. Despite their rodent-like appearance, they are elephants’ closest living relative. Hyraxes are colonial, living in colonies of about 50 within the natural crevices of rocks or boulders. They do not create burrows.


Hyraxes are rotund herbivorous mammals native to parts of Africa and the Middle East. Despite their rodent-like appearance, they are elephants’ closest living relative. Hyraxes are colonial, living in colonies of about 50 within the natural crevices of rocks or stones. They do not create burrows.


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  1. [They are also maybe just as closely related to manatees and dugongs](https://www.wildnatureinstitute.org/blog/elephants-manatees-andhyraxes), but I only have so much space in a post title and the wording got tricky.

    Hyraxes are pretty adorable! Definitely not an animal I’ve heard too much about.

    According to the [IUCN Red List](https://www.iucnredlist.org/), the extant species are least concern to near threatened. There are [rock hyraxes](https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/41766/21285876) (*Procavia capensis*), [bush hyraxes](https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/9997/21283287) (*Heterohyrax brucei*), and [western tree hyraxes](https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/6410/21282601) (*Dendrohyrax dorsalis*).

    Hyraxes are apparently very particular about feeding and defecating. While eating they form a circle, facing outwards, to keep watch for predators. When it’s time to use the bathroom, they use “latrines” doing their business in the same spot each day. This was actually great for climate scientists! Hyrax urine is full of pollen grains and their deposits on rocks can get pretty thick over time. Scientists scraped off a 55,000-year-old urine layer to study the pollen within, which aided them in understanding environmental shifts over time. Really cool study. Here’s the news article [*How the rock hyrax’s toilet habits left climate scientists a 55,000-year trail*](https://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/feb/16/rock-hyrax-toilet-habits-climate-scientists).

    Hyrax young are born basically ready to go. They can jump and run only an hour after they are born! This is due to an incredibly long gestation period for such a small animal, 7 to 8 months ([African WIldlife Foundation](https://www.awf.org/wildlife-conservation/hyrax) has a great page on Hyraxes). Comparatively, rats are around 24 days and squirrels are around 35 days depending on species. If we want to compare them to their closest relatives the elephant that’s about 22 months.

    They were also featured in Ice Age franchise, [here’s a still](https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/iceage/images/7/70/Hyrax_group_%28main%29.png/revision/latest?cb=20120706183738).

    Here are a few news articles:

    * [*Brevard zoo welcomes 2 rock hyrax pups*](http://www.fox13news.com/news/florida-news/brevard-zoo-welcomes-2-rock-hyrax-pups) – Fox 13 News

    * [*Spot The Rock Hyrax: Amusing Optical Illusions And Other Perfectly-Timed Photos From Across Africa*](https://www.forbes.com/sites/maryannanderson/2019/05/27/spot-the-rock-hyrax-amusing-optical-illusions-and-other-perfectly-timed-photos-from-across-africa/#326a68df3361) – Forbes

    Here are a few videos:

    * [*Meet the endangered Hyrax | Little Brother of the Elephant*](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TWqIW3tpnI) – BBC

    * [*South Africa’s Wonder Beast: Rock Hyrax*](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5Oj_edfB4U) –
    CGTN Africa

    * [*Hyrax sunshield – 24 Hours on Earth: Preview*](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3FKlsbqQVU) – BBC One

    * [*Who Knew? – Rock Hyrax*](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6JwVde0wyzQ) – The Buffalo Zoo

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