Rock Hyrax

Rock Hyrax – Ancestral Work

Rock Hyrax illustrated by Ravenari


Language and meaning, vocalisation, communication, community, having a fighting spirit, finding your place, defence and offence, knowing when to retreat, knowing when to fight, fierce ancestor/s, ancestry and memory, contacting ancestors, retrieving lost memories, adaptability.


The Rock Hyrax (Procavia capensis) is a medium-sized, squat, heavily built mammal with short ears and tail that has many other names, including the dassie, coney and rock rabbit. They are most closely related to the manatee and the elephant. They are found in Africa and the Middle East. They prefer high elevations, in rocky habitats with sedimentary rocks and soil that allow them to build caves to help them escape predators. They live approximately ten years. They are preyed on by leopards, caracals, servals, jackals, hyenas, snakes, owls and hawks. Verreaux’s eagle is a specialised hyrax hunter. Rock hyraxes produce large amounts of hyraceum (sticky secretion of dung and urine) that has been used in folk remedies and in perfumeries to make musk.

Hyraxes are herbivores, but will also take insects and grubs. They have a three chambered stomach to aid them with digestion. They can climb trees to feed, though prefer not to. They can go for many days without water due to the water in their food, but dehydrate quickly in direct sunlight. While mainly crepuscular, their activity varies with the seasons. They spend around 95% of their time resting, basking in the sun.

Live in groups of around 10-80 animals and will forage together, using sentries who warn of predators through alarm calls. They only like to feed a maximum of around 50 feet from their refuge often in a circle formation. Colonies have an adult male, females and immature hyraxes. The dominant male looks after the group. Hyraxes possess a dorsal gland that is most visible in dominant males, and used for communication and territory marking. Hyraxes show evidence of liking to touch each other’s glands while huddling.

The social hierarchy of hyrax groups changes from colony to colony. More egalitarian groups will have individuals that live longer. They often use the same toileting area. They give birth to around two to four young, and their offspring are well-developed at birth. Rock hyraxes have a complex vocalisation system featuring more than 20 distinct noises, that can provide size, age, status, weight, condition and hormonal state of every individual caller, along with the message they are trying to convey. There are also dialects that change by geography, and syntactical structures in how they communicate.