Fun Tree Hyrax Facts For Kids

Oluwatosin Michael
Oct 20, 2022 By Oluwatosin Michael
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Shikha Sharma
Tree hyrax facts about the small mammal native to Africa.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.5 Min

Tree hyraxes are popularly known as dassie or rock rabbits and are small furry animals. There are many recognized subspecies of hyraxes namely that have several names, some of which are the rock hyraxes (Procavia capensis) also known as dassie, rock rabbit, and Cape hyrax, the bush hyrax or yellow-spotted hyrax (Heterohyrax brucei), and the tree hyrax or tree dassie. Under the tree hyrax species, there is namely the southern tree hyrax (Dendrohyrax arboreus) found in the south-central and eastern side of Africa and the eastern tree hyrax found in East Africa.

The tree hyrax spends the most time in the trees. In some regions, tree hyrax is hunted for its soft, thick, and long hair with a white or yellow dorsal spot. They are eaten by certain people in some areas however this practice is not followed in all regions native to these species. Read on for more about this interesting mammal. If you like this article then visit our gopher and mongoose facts.

Tree Hyrax Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Tree Hyrax?

The Tree hyrax is a type of hyrax animal that lives primarily in the wild and is often hunted for its fur as well as its meat.

What class of animal does a Tree Hyrax belong to?

The Tree hyrax resembles smaller rodent species but they are not the same, they belong to the Mammalia class of species, and order Hyracoidea.

How many Tree Hyraxes are there in the world?

The exact distribution or number of tree hyraxes in the world is not evaluated however, their conservation status classifies them as Least Concern species.

Where does a Tree Hyrax live?

The Tree hyrax lives in dense rainforests and dry savannas. They are seen primarily in western Africa, east Africa, and mid-African regions. They are territorial beings and tend to mark their territory using their scent gland.

What is a Tree Hyrax's habitat?

The Tree hyrax habitat constitutes savanna, dense forests tropical rainforests, coastal dunes as well as wooded areas. They primarily reside in a place where they can find appropriate food and shelter. They can be found living in heights of up to 4500 m above sea level.  

Who do Tree Hyraxes live with?

Tree hyraxes are nocturnal and are solitary beings and seldom live in groups. Other species of hyraxes live with families. All of them are herbivorous in nature and reside in trees hence the name. They are cautious of predators and either bite back or run away from their predators. They are territorial beings and tend to mark their territory using their scent gland.

How long does a Tree Hyrax live?

The average lifespan of a tree hyrax is five years. One species however was recorded to have lived for 14 years and died in captivity.

How do they reproduce?

The tree hyraxes are one such species that have a long gestation period of around 230 days. Males and females attain sexual maturity by the age of 16 months. Males and females mate sexually and then post-fertilization the embryo developing inside the womb of the females and the offspring are born fully furred and large in size. At the end of the first year, the young ones develop fur and are able to move around and climb.

What is their conservation status?

The tree hyraxes' conservation status is considered in the Least Concern category species by the International Union For Conservation Of Nature (IUCN).

Tree Hyrax Fun Facts

What do Tree Hyraxes look like?

They are stumpy and short and their tails resemble a guinea pig or marmot in appearance. They have fur all over their body and a paler underside. They are four-toed front feet and three-toed back feet with rubbery soles and rounded nails and short legs. They have one long nail which is called a grooming claw which is present on the inner toe of their back foot. They utilize their front foot to search for food. Their back foot helps them climb steep rock surfaces and trees. They have blunt noses and a small face with two cute eyes. They have rounded ears which help them sense sensitive sounds.

Hyrax characteristics include that they have brownish-gray fur with a creamy white patch on their backs.

How cute are they?

The Hyrax is an extremely cute animal. They are playful beings and can also be kept as pets. It's essential to ensure that all the suitable conditions are met before adopting them as pets.

How do they communicate?

Communication consists of tree hyrax vocalizations, chemical, and tactile modes. They are loud animals and have piercing and loud contact calls that are generally made towards the end of the day when the hyrax spots predators.

How big is a Tree Hyrax?

Tree hyrax is 11-20 in (30-50 cm) in length which is 50 times bigger than the smallest species of mammal i.e. the bumblebee bat which is 1.14-1.29 in (29-33 mm).

How fast can a Tree Hyrax run?

The Tree hyrax is a relatively fast animal and can sense the presence of predators easily. Rock hyraxes can travel at 18 mph.

How much does a Tree Hyrax weigh?

The Tree hyraxes' weight is 8-11 lb (4-5 kg). The African bush elephant is the largest mammal and also the heaviest. A surprising yet true fact about these animals is that they are distantly related to elephants and sea cows. Isn't that fascinating! Read on to find out more about why this is so.

What are their male and female names of the species?

Male and female hyraxes are not addressed differently however they differ in some ways namely, females lack air pouches and enlarged larynges. Males also mate with multiple mates in some instances.  

What would you call a baby Tree Hyrax?

A baby tree hyrax is just referred to as a baby initially and as they grow they are called tree hyrax. Babies are born with full fur and are large in size.

What do they eat?

The tree hyrax diet is herbivorous in nature and feeds on leaves, fruits, twigs, and other leafy substances. They eat quickly with the family group facing out from a circle to watch for potential predators. Other species of hyrax like the rock hyrax are known to consume insects, lizards, and bird eggs as well. Predators include leopards, snakes, hyenas, jackals, large birds, and humans.

Are they dangerous?

Hyraxes are not innately dangerous and are sociable beings. They are territorial beings and their instant reaction to any danger is to escape. When the male gives a shrill alarm, the other hyraxes jump to cover themselves and remain in a frozen state until all danger has passed.

Would they make a good pet?

They are not suitable to be kept as pets as they are wild animals.

Did you know...

As you read earlier, elephants and hyraxes are related. This is primarily because they have similar teeth and skull structures and share a common ancestor as well. Given that they differ so much in size, these two could be called unlikely relatives.

A research article titled, 'Diet of Tree Hyraxes: Dendrohyrax arboreus (Hyracoidea procaviidae) in the Eastern Cape, South Africa' was published in the Journal of Mammalogy. The journal contains articles written on other species of animals as well.  

They are capable of surviving for long hours without water or food.

White deposits of feces and from their urine form on rock faces.

What's the difference between a Tree Hyrax and a Rock Hyrax?

They are two different species of the same family hence it's easy to confuse not just these two but other species of the same family. Rock hyraxes are primarily omnivorous in nature and tree hyraxes are herbivorous in nature. Another difference between the two is rock hyrax is more active during the day and more social of the two beings. The Tree hyrax is largely solitary in nature and doesn't prefer a lot of company.

How did the Tree Hyrax get its name?

Mentions of Hyrax species have been made in the sacred book like the Bible by Moses in Leviticus 11:5 and Deuteronomy 14:7. The Tree hyrax is primarily a tree-dweller as compared to other species of the same family hence its name. It is also a herbivore and primarily feeds on leaves fruits, twigs, and other leafy substances, unlike other hyrax species.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals from our gray fox facts, and badger surprising facts.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable rock hyrax coloring pages.

Tree Hyrax Facts

What Did They Prey On?

N/A

What Type of Animal were they?

Herbivore

Average Litter Size?

4 offsprings

How Much Did They Weigh?

8-11 lb (4-5 kg)

What habitat Do they Live In?

dense rainforests, and dry savannas

Where Do They Live?

western, eastern, and south africa

How Long Were They?

11-20 in (30-50 cm)

How Tall Were They?

N/A

Class

Mammalia

Genus

Dendrohyrax arboreus

Family

Procaviidae

Scientific Name

Hyracoidea

What Do They Look Like?

Brown, gray, yellow and white

Skin Type

Fur

What Are Their Main Threats?

leopards, snakes, hyenas, jackals, and large birds

What is their Conservation Status?

Least Concern
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Written by Oluwatosin Michael

Bachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology

Oluwatosin Michael picture

Oluwatosin MichaelBachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology

With a Bachelor's in Microbiology from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Oluwatosin has honed his skills as an SEO content writer, editor, and growth manager. He has written articles, conducted extensive research, and optimized content for search engines. His expertise extends to leading link-building efforts and revising onboarding strategies. 

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