science education resource

For K-12 Students • Educators • Homeschool Families • Naturalists

Hyrax (Rock)

To view these resources with no ads please Login or Subscribe (and help support our site).

Procavia capensis


 They live in Africa.


They are found in arid regions; deserts (the Sahara, Namib, and Arabian) and dry mountainous regions, savannas, and scrubby forest lands. They particularly like rocky areas in which they can take shelter.

Body Traits

The are relatively small, round-bodied mammals (about the size of a large woodchuck) reaching less than 2 feet long (550 mm). They can weigh up to 8 pounds (4 kg) with males being somewhat larger than females. Their thick fur can range in color from yellow to grayish brown.

They have short, little tail and small rounded ears. They have tusk-like front teeth (incisors) that are bigger in the males.  They are not rodents, though fill a similar niche.

They have four toes in front and three toes in back with rounded, blunt nails and dark pads underneath for negotiating rocky terrain.


They live in colonies (gregarious) with many females and their offspring and one dominant male. The males are territorial , watching for other males and any potential predators. They have a loud, screechy call to warn of danger or scare off other males from their territory. They can also growl or grind their teeth when they feel threatened.

Many such colonies can live in the same proximity - each with one dominant males and many females. There can be as many as 80 rock hyraxes on one area.

Unless they leave earlier, when male offspring reach maturity (at about 2.5 years), they are driven out of the colony by the dominant male. Many young males live on the outskirts of the colony waiting for a dominant male to get old and/or die so they can compete with other young males to take his place.

The colonies do not dig burrows but live in the shelter of rocky areas or take over an old, abandoned burrows of another animal.

They are more actively feeding in the mornings and evenings, avoiding being out in extremely hot or cold temperatures. They like to sunbath in the morning to warm up and huddle together in colder temperatures. They spend much of their lives resting.


They are herbivores, eating plants, leaves, buds, and fruit. In more arid regions, they may eat bark and lichens. The spend less than an hour each day feeding, eating quickly and returning to their resting locations.


They are eaten by leopards, lions, and other African big cats, owls, eagles, jackals, African wild dogs, cobras, adders.

To view these resources with no ads, please Login or Subscribe (and help support our site).


The dominant male has up to 7 breeding females in his "harem" (polygamous) that breed once a year. Females are pregnant for up to 8 months. They each have up to 6 young (usually 2 or 3). Offspring are born with a full coat of fur and open eyes. They are feeding ion their own in just a couple of weeks, though will nurse for 2-3 months.

Lifespan and/or Conservation Status

They live up to 12 years and are not considered endangered.


Kingdom: Chordata
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Hyracoidea
Family: Procaviidae
Genus: Procavia
Species: Procavia capensis has more than 2,000 illustrated animals. Read about them, color them, label them, learn to draw them.