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.