Light grey coat in the south and a darker, reddish brown in the north. The underlying fur is darker and is visible when the coat is fluffed up in the cold. The coat is glossy when sleeked down in hot conditions. Long, black tactile body hairs are scattered through the coat. A cream-coloured patch is placed behind the ears. The dorsal spot is usually black whereas the dorsal spot is cream to yellow-red in Yellow-spotted hyrax and white/off-white in the Tree hyrax. Females have one pair of nipples on the chest and two pairs on the belly. The Yellow-spotted hyrax sometimes has no nipples on the chest and the number of mammae is variable in Tree hyrax. Total average length is 54cm and weight males 3,7kg, females 3,4 kg.
Occupies a very wide range of habitats but not in forests. The only definite requirement is rocks for shelter. Human-made structures are also acceptable.
Feeds in the morning and afternoon. Rests in shelter to avoid the midday heat. Spends only 5% of the time feeding, interacting and moving around as a way of saving energy and avoiding predators. Saves metabolic energy by allowing body temperature to fall by as much as 3°C and then basks in the sun with the coat fluffed up to expose the dark under fur to absorb heat. Rock dassies are exceptionally agile, the soft, moist pads of their feet providing a secure grip even on smooth rock. They also climb trees to reach the foliage.
Colonies consist of 3-17 females and their young. Group size depends on the availability of shelter. Males without territories are solitary. Territorial males control the colony and only they have access to breeding females. Males are aggressive and their sharp incisor teeth can inflict serious wounds on each other and on females and fights over colonies can result in fatalities. Territorial takeovers are attempted at the end of the mating season when the breeding males are in poor physical condition. Juveniles form nursery groups. Sub adult males leave their groups at 15 months. Rock hyraxes and Yellow-spotted hyrax young form mixed nursery groups for which adults of either species act as sentinels. Dung accumulates in piles at latrine sites. They urinate in specific spots and dried urine produces conspicuous white streaks on rocks. Urine sometimes accumulates into substantial amber deposits which at one time were used in folk remedies. The hair on the dorsal patch is raised and the odor of the gland’s secretion released, during aggression and courtship.
African Elephant | African Fish Eagle | Banded Mongoose | Bat-Eared Fox | Black-Backed Jackal | Blue Wildebeest | Burchell’s Zebra | Bushbuck | Cape Buffalo | Cape Rock Hyrax | Chacma Baboon | Greater Flamingo | Grey Lourie | Grey Rheebuck | Hadeda Ibis | Helmeted Guineafowl | Hippopotamus | Impala | Klipspringer | Kudu | Large Spotted Genet | Leopard | Lesser Bushbaby | Lion | Ostrich | Red Squirrel | Reedbuck | Samango Monkey | Secretary Bird | Side-Striped Jackal | Southern Ground Hornbill | Spotted Hyaena | Springbok | Suricate | Thick-Tailed Bushbaby | Tree Squirrel | Trumpeter Hornbill | Vervet Monkey | White Rhinoceros