Thursday, May 17, 2012

Southern Tree Hyrax

Dendrohyrax arboreus
The Hyrax is such a weird little animal! There are four different species within three genera, all of which are found in Africa and the Middle East. They look like rodents, digest their food like ungulates, but are most closely related to Elephants and Manatees. So bizarre.

As a side note to that-- the Superorder Afrotheria encompasses several genetically distinct animal species that all evolved on the African continent, share a common ancestor way back, and have no other close relatives. Sengis, Aardvarks, Elephants, Manatees, and Golden Moles are also members of this interesting group.

You may already know about the more common Rock Hyrax (they are fairly popular in Zoos)-- a ground dwelling, diurnal member of the family that is found across Sub-Saharan Africa with the exception of dense, forested areas. The Southern Tree Hyrax is just the opposite. They live in trees (if the name didn't give that away), are found in the denser forests that the Rock Hyrax is absent from, and live a nocturnal lifestyle.

The Southern Tree Hyrax lives either alone or in very small groups (another opposite of the large clan dwelling Rock Hyrax), and males can be incredibly territorial, making loud shrieking, screaming noises to keep others away. Because they spend their lives almost exclusively in trees, they are incredibly awkward when moving on the ground. Their dens are even constructed in tree holes, or in the nooks between two branches. Twigs, leaves, fruits, and seeds make up their diet.

The Southern Tree Hyrax is able to avoid a lot of different predators by staying off the ground, but they can't avoid the Verreaux's Eagle! This large Bird of Prey is a Hyrax specialist, and most of their diet is made up of the small mammals.

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : Africa
Size : Length up to 28in (70cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Superorder : Afrotheria
Order : Hyracoidea -- Family : Procaviidae -- Genus : Dendrohyrax -- Species : D. arboreus

1 comment:

  1. What an interesting animal! Thank you for this post. I enjoy reading all of your posts.


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