The hyrax looks like a rodent. But, in fact, it’s actually more closely related to elephants, despite its small size and rodent-like appearance. This surprising relationship is due to similarities in their teeth and skull structures, as well as genetic evidence.
Fun facts about the hyrax
This is one odd little animal!
Hyraxes are also known as dassies or rock rabbits. These little creatures are furry mammals native to Africa and the Middle East. Hyraxes belong to the order Hyracoidea and are found in rocky habitats, such as mountains and cliffs.
There are four species of hyraxes: the rock hyrax, the bush hyrax, the yellow-spotted hyrax, and the tree hyrax. The rock hyrax is the most common and can be found in many parts of Africa.
Hyraxes are social animals that live in groups of up to 80. They communicate with each other through a series of grunts, whistles, and screams (so charming!).
They’re also territorial and mark their territory with unique specialized scent glands located on their feet. The cute little herbivores feed on a variety of vegetation, including leaves, shoots, and bark.
Hyraxes are also known for their excellent sense of hearing and sight. This helps them detect predators such as eagles, leopards, and snakes. When threatened, the animals really know how to make a racket. They will emit a loud, high-pitched scream to alert the rest of the group. (We’re getting increasingly grateful these don’t live in our backyard.)
Turning animals into oil?!
Hyrax oil, also known as rock rabbit oil or dassie oil, is a type of oil that is extracted from the fatty tissues of hyraxes. It has been used for a variety of purposes, including in traditional medicine, as a fuel source, and for cosmetic and perfume production.
Historically, this oil has been used in traditional medicine to treat various ailments, such as skin conditions, ear infections, and rheumatism. It has also been used as a lubricant and fuel source for lamps and candles.
In some cultures, hyrax oil has also been used in cosmetics and perfumes due to its distinctive musky odor. However, the use of their oil in modern cosmetic and perfume production is not common, and synthetic musk fragrances have largely replaced it.
Despite its historical use in traditional medicine and other industries, the harvesting of hyrax oil is considered illegal in many countries due to the endangered status of some hyrax species. As a result, it has largely fallen out of favor in modern times.