Rock Hyrax
(Procavia capensis) #62-635

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Physical characteristics and distribution

Rock Hyrax Procavia capensis

Head and body length of P. capensis is 305-550 mm. There is no external tail. Males weigh an average of 4 kg while females average about 3.6 kg. The pelage is made up of thick dense fur with scattered guard hairs. Coloration is brownish gray, lighter flanks and somewhat creamy coloration underneath. Individual coloration can vary in intensity. The soles of the feet are smooth, moist and rubberlike, allowing the Rock Hyrax traction on smooth surfaces and steep slopes. Whiskers can reach a length of 180mm. There is a gland on the back which is covered by a patch of black hairs. During a display of aggression, the hairs stand erect and the gland is exposed.

P. capensis is found in rocky and scrub-covered areas which afford the animals places to dig burrows. The Rock Hyrax also has poor thermoregulatory capabilities and avoids emerging from its shelter if the temperatures are too hot or too cold. Often, several individuals will congregate in a burrow to conserve heat.

A vegetarian, P. capensis will eat any available plant and is adept at climbing trees to eat the leaves of a far reaching branch. It will drink water when available, but can get a good deal of its needed moisture from the food it eats. Family group sizes vary greatly, but generally consist of one dominant male, possibly a subordinate male and several females. Males usually leave the family group at 16-30 months, and may live alone for some time. Colonies are made up of family groups and may contain hundreds of animals. The members of the group all feed together with one of the females or the dominant male keeping watch on a high rock or branch. If the sentry senses danger, an alarm call is given and the group immediately seeks cover.

Births occur at different times of year depending on the distribution of P. capensis. Gestation is about 240-45 days. Females have 6 mammae and litter size is 1-6, with the babies weighing 170-240 grams each. They are covered with fur and the eyes are open at birth. They can move about capably at a day old and start taking solid food at about 2 weeks. The offspring nurse for about 1-5 months and sexual maturity is reached at 16-17 months. Life expectancy in the wild is about 8.5 years, though one captive individual lived to age 11.

P. capensis is found in Sub-Saharana and NE Africa (a line from Senegal through S Algeria and Libya, Egypt to southern most tip of Africa), portion of the Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Israel), and the Arabian peninsula (Saudi Arabia, Yemen); and the isolated mountains in Algeria and Libya.

Description of the brain

Animal source and preparation
All specimens collected followed the same preparation and histological procedure.

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