We have a small family of rock hyrax.
Location in the Zoo
Currently off show
Breeding Programme Category
Our rock hyrax are part of the European Stud Book programme (ESB)
In the Wild
Rock hyraxes (Procavia capensis) are found in Algeria, Libya, sub-Saharan Africa, Syria and the Middle East living in rocky areas of deserts, savannahs and dry forests. They make their home in the burrows of aardvarks and meerkats and live in large groups.
On first appearance, the rock hyrax is the same size as a domestic cat or large rabbit and resembles a gerbil or a guinea pig, however they are in fact more closely related to the elephant! They have short legs, brown fur, small ears, a short stumpy tail and long front teeth; both sexes look the same although males are larger than females.
Rock hyraxes are very intelligent, have sharp hearing and toenails. To enable them to move easily on their rocky terrain the hyrax has rough soles on its feet and a flap of skin on its shin which is used for suction to give it a grip when climbing. Hyraxes are not able to regulate their own body temperature and so bask in the sun for warmth or huddle together.
Upon waking, the hyrax leaves its burrow to bask in the morning sun. It then finds a meal and finds shade before it becomes too hot. Rock hyraxes always remain close to their burrows and rock crevices so if they are threatened they can get to safety quickly. Sentries warn of approaching danger by giving a shrill cry to warn the rest of the group. The hyraxes are hunted by a number of predators such as mongoose, birds of prey, snakes and leopards.
The diet of the rock hyrax consists mostly of buds, fruits, grass, leaves and plants. As they do not have sharp incisors they chew their food with their side molars. Being able to conserve energy allows the rock hyrax to live in places with little vegetation.
After a gestation period of approximately seven months, the female gives birth to between two to six young. The infant hyraxes are born with their eyes open and are instantly mobile. Although they can feed on solid food when they are approximately a week old, the young hyrax are not weaned until they are ten weeks old. Once they are two years old the male hyraxes leave their family to start their own group while their sisters remain. The hyrax is fully grown at three years old and their lifespan is approximately ten years.
Due to their extensive range they are not considered as a threatened species.