Rock Hyrax

Procavia capensis capensis

A Cape cliff slate, somewhat obscured by brown rock. IUCN Red List endangerment category: Least concern
  • Family
    Hyraxes (Procaviidae)
  • Weight
    2 – 4 kg
  • Habitat
    Dry, rocky areas

Climbing with sweaty feet

Rock hyraxes are superb climbers. This is due to a combination of sweat glands and specialised muscles in the feet that make the rubbery pads on the soles act like suction cups. When the muscles contract the centre of the rubbery pads lift up to form a cup-like shape, which are kept moist by secretions from the sweat glands. The sweaty feet enable hyraxes to nimbly scale the steepest cliffs.

The picture is a drawing of a Rock Hyrax.

Sun gazer

The hyrax has specially adapted eyes that allow it to stare into the sun for hours. The eyes feature a protective membrane that shields the pupils from the harmful glare – a handy adaptation for animals that must watch the sky to avoid being swoop down upon by aerial predators such as eagles.

The hyrax closest relatives are the elephant and the manatee. DNA analysis has proven that these three species have a common ancestor.


Distribution Rock Hyrax