Colloquial (Common) Names: Rock Dassie (English); Klipdas, Klipdassie (Afrikaans); imbila (isiNdebele); imbila (isiXhosa); imbila (isiZulu); imbila (siSwati); pela, thobela, thewbela (Sepedi); pela (Sesotho); pela (Setswana); mbila (Shona); mbila (Xitsonga); mbila (Tshivenda).

Taxonomy: Class: Mammalia; Order: Hyracoidea; Family: Procaviidae

Identification: Small, stoutly built animals that have no tail. Limbs are short and they have a somewhat pointed snout terminating in a round, black nose. The fur is reddish-brown to yellowish, and often paler below. There is an erectile patch of hair on their back.

Size: Total length is 45-60cm with a body mass of 2.5-4.6kg.

Distribution: Rock hyraxes are found throughout most parts of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland.

Habitat: Savanna, Grassland, Fynbos, Nama-Karoo, Succulent Karoo and Albany Thicket Biomes where they are strongly associated with rocky outcrops and boulders.

Activity & Behaviour: Predominantly diurnal, emerging from their rocky retreats in the morning and basking in the sun before moving off to forage. Also observed feeding at night during full-moon periods, as well. Rock hyraxes are heavily preyed upon by Verreaux’s and Crowned Eagles.

Diet & Feeding: Rock hyraxes feed on a variety of grasses, shrubs and trees, where they will eat leaves, fruits and berries, and even tree bark.

Reproduction: Females give birth to 1-4 young, with 2-3 being the norm. They have a long gestation period of up to 230 days.

Conservation Status: Least Concern.

References and Recommended Further Reading:

  • Skinner, John D & Chimimba, Christian T. 2005. The Mammals of the Southern African Subregion. Cambridge University Press.
  • Stuart, Chris & Tilde. 2007. Field Guide to Mammals of Southern Africa. (Revised Edition). Published by Struik Nature.

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