approx. 3.8 kg
arid, rocky areas in southern Africa
This resident of savannahs and semi-deserts is the size of a rabbit and has elongated incisors in its upper jaw that resemble tusks. These are particularly distinctive in the males. Instead of clawed feet hyraxes have hoof-like nails.
Hyraxes can narrow their irises to the point where they can look directly into the sun for hours. This is a huge advantage in the animal world as it enables them to keep a look out for aerial attacks even in direct sunlight.
My Uncle, the Elephant It’s hard to believe, but the hyrax’s nearest relations are elephants and sea cows! DNA analysis proves that these three species have a common ancestors that lived about 80 million years ago in Africa.
Hyraxes can climb up sheer rock faces. Their secret is that they have sweat glands that keep the soles of their feet moist. Thanks to these ‘sweaty feet’ they stick to even smooth, extremely steep walls of rock.
Using strong muscles they retract the soles of their feet and together with this sweaty secretion create a vacuum that enables them to nimbly scale the steepest cliffs.