Fauna Details

Common Name Cape Rock Hyrax (Dassie)
Family Procaviidae
Date Observed 08-11-2022
Category Mammals
Catalogue No. Z5007RG
Breeding/ Spawning Time Spring,Summer
When Observed DAYTIME
Locations Observed
Koppie Few,Many
Nature Reserve
Small Holding
Village Few,Many
Greater Rooiels

Procavia capensis capensis


Cape Rock Hyrax (Dassie)

  The well-known dassies of Rooiels are rock hyrax (Procavia capensis). They live in crevices between rocks, some are on the Koppie and some have moved into sheds or houses that are not often used.

·         Dassies have tiny tusks and can get quite ferocious when threatened.
·         Their closest genetic relative is the elephant.
·         Dassies are diurnal. Their bodies do not generate heat well and on cold days they huddle together between the rocks where they live, until they can come out and sit in the sun to warm up.
·         Their padded feet secrete moisture to assist with grip on sheer rock faces and cliff sides. They can retract the inner section of the pad under their foot to create a suction effect.
·         There is a specialized claw on each hind foot for scratching and particularly for grooming. A dorsal gland is situated on their back and the area is covered with long black hairs.
·         Dassies eat grass and aromatic leaves of fynbos plants. In Rooiels they trim some of the lawns near the Koppie and graze on grass close to the sea.
·         A hyrax stomach has three chambers with bacteria that assist with the breakdown of food.
·         Dassies provide a food source for many predators in Rooiels, including Verreaux’s eagles, leopards, caracal (rooikat) and snakes. Without these predators, the dassies could have a distinct and even negative impact on the fynbos.
·         Hyraxes can move a membrane over their eyes to stare into the sky for possible predators. A bulge in each iris acts as a sunvisor.
·         Dassies communicate by growling, squealing and snorting. A short bark is a warning to dive for cover, while repetitive barking is a mating call.
·         Females have two or three babies, which they carry for about 230 days. In Rooiels the babies are born in the rock shelters in September or October. They are precocial, being born fully furred and with their eyes open.

·         Females have six teats. The two teats between the front legs can be accessed from the front or the side, making suckling possible when the dassies are hiding amongst the crevices.

·         Hyrax colonies have demarcated latrines, as can be seen at the various dassie colonies in Rooiels.
·         The deposits gradually turn into a black resinous aromatic material in which plant material, pollen and other digestive remains are trapped.
·         The fossilised latrine is called hyraceum (Afr: dassiepis, klipsweet).
·         Dassiepis is sold by Rastas to treat epilepsy, inflammation and sexually transmitted diseases and some other ailments.
Olivia Adereggen. 2018. Traditional medicines used by Rastas in Mowbray. Univarsität Basil, Switzerland. P. 12.
Reay H.N. Smithers. 1983. THE MAMMALS OF THE SOUTHERN AFRICAN SUBREGION. University of Pretoria. Pretoria. P 541 – 548
www.Africanaromatics.com. 2010. Hyraceum – “Eau de Dassie”.
www.SANBI.com South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). 2018.  DASSIE. Thembile Khoza and Michelle Hamer. SANBI Biosystematics Division.