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Hyraxes in Uganda

The hyrax is shy and so unlike other animals that are placed in a separate order ‘Hydracoidea’ by itself. It is said to be the elephants nearest living relative. This is true to a certain extent but must leading since the relationship stems from a remote ancestor common to hyraxes sea comes ‘dugongs and manatees’ and elephants. These three are unlike others mammals, but their share various if disproportionate physiological similarities in teeth leg and foot bones tests and other more obscure details.

Taxonomy


Common name: Hyraxes
Scientific name: Rock hyrax ‘Procavia capanses’ yellow spelled hyrax ‘tteterohyrax brusei’, tree hyrax ‘Dendrohyrax dorsalis’


Where to Find the Hyraxes


Hyraxes are very adaptable. In East Africa they live at sea level and up to altitudes of over 14,000 feet and in habitats ranging from dry savanna to dense rain forest to cold Afro-alpine moorland.

What do the Hyraxes eat


They spend several hours sunbathing in the mornings, followed by short exclusions to feed. They feed on grasses, herbage, leaves, fruit, insects, lizards and birds eggs. They can go a long time without water, apparently obtaining enough moistures from this food. Tree hyraxes feed on leaves and fruits.

How to identify a Hyraxe


The hyrax, also called rock rabbit or dassie, is a small funny animal it looks like a rabbit, over sized guinea pig or a rabbit with rounded ears and no tail. Hyraxes have stumpy toes with hoof-like nails four toes on each foot and three on each back foot. The longer, claw-like nails on the inside toes of the back feet are used for grooming and scratching of the three hyrax species, two are known as rock (bus) hyrax and the third as tree hyrax. Rock hyrax is yellowish or grayish brown and the dorsal spot is covered with black or yellow hair. Its head is more wounded than other hyrax species and the nose is blunt. Yellow spotted hyrax or rock rabbit in smaller and has a more pointed rodent like nose. It has a conspicuous white patch above the eye and its dorsal sport in whitish or yellowish. Tree hyraxes spend a lot of time in trees. In some areas they are hunted for their thick, soft, long hairs. They have a while or yellow dorsal spot.

Behavior


Rock hyraxes do not dig burrows; they live in colonies 50 or 80 in natural crevices of rocks or boulders. They particularly use ‘latrines’ and in areas they inhabit conspicuous white. Deposits from their urine form on rock faces. Are active in the day time and can be seen feeding near the entrances to their shelters. Hyrax vocalizations include twitters, goals, whistles and shrinks. The raucous nocturnal shriek of the tree hyrax is most impressive starting as a squeak of whistle, then rising to a pig like squeal and finally to a child’s scream. Hyraxes do most of their screaming as they ascend/descend trees during the night. The hyrax is nocturnal and not as social as rock hyraxes. They are often found in pairs and so not form much larger groups.

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