Southern tree hyrax

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Southern tree hyrax[1]
Scientific classification
D. arboreus
Binomial name
Dendrohyrax arboreus
(A. Smith, 1827)[3]
Southern Tree Hyrax area.png
Southern tree hyrax range

The southern tree hyrax (Dendrohyrax arboreus) or also known as the southern tree dassie is a species of mammal in the family Procaviidae. The southern tree hyrax is mainly found in the south central eastern side of Africa.


The southern tree hyrax has a guinea pig-like appearance. It has long, soft, grey-brown fur that covers the body, while the underside is paler. Hairs are lighter near their tips and the ears have a fringe of white hair. They weigh about 2.27 kg on average, and have an average length of 520 mm.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

It is found in Angola, Zambia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique,and South Africa. Its natural habitats are temperate forests, subtropical or tropical dry forests, subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, subtropical or tropical moist montane forests, moist savanna, and rocky areas. It may be found at elevations up to 4500 m[4][5]

Arboreal behavior[edit]

The tree hyrax lives in trees and is mostly nocturnal, as opposed to the rock hyrax which lives among rocks and is mainly diurnal. It occurs singly, in pairs or in small groups, favouring hollow trees and dense foliage. Tree hyrax are extremely able climbers with remarkable balancing skills, they do walk on the ground, but will often 'bounce' along rapidly then stop and then move rapidly again to get to the next piece of cover. Its extraordinary call, heard mainly at night, is a series of blood-curdling shrieks building up to a crescendo. These territorial calls are produced mainly by the males.[6]


Martial and tawny eagles, leopards, lions, jackals, spotted hyenas, and snakes prey upon the southern tree hyrax. In Rwanda, the most common predators are feral dogs. The limited amount of time the hyrax spends on the ground at night may be a predator avoidance strategy. Humans sometimes also eat the hyrax.[7]

The eastern tree hyrax (Dendrohyrax validus) was given ecological classification Near Threatened (NT) in 2015 [8]


The southern tree hyrax is a herbivore. It consumes many different parts of the plants such as the leaves, petioles, twigs, shoots, fleshy fruit, and hard seeds.[9] Individual species are too many to list, but Hagenia abyssinica, Hypericum revolutum, and Podocarpus falcatus are the most common.[5]

Reproduction and life cycle[edit]

Milner and Harris reported that they were unable to determine the mating system but speculated that it may be facultative monogamy/polygyny.[5] After a gestation period of 7 months, 1-2 young are born. At birth they are well developed and they weigh between 170 to below 200 gms. In rescue conditions they can put on around 4% weight gain per day on a cows milk forumla, however some youngsters do not flourish on this formula. At about five months their fur develops darker spots often around guard hairs. Very young hyraxes have poor coordination and under an estimated week of age they cannot follow their mothers back along a branch. Their mobility skills develop rapidly. Within two weeks they will use a midden. Youngsters appear to learn what leaves to eat by both watching and tasting what the adult is chewing. They will eat a diverse range of leaves, shoots, bark, fruit, and flowers. The southern tree hyrax reaches maturity at about 12 months old.


It has been suggested that Dendrohyrax validus, commonly called the eastern tree hyrax, be included in Dendrohyrax arboreus until detailed taxonomic research is conducted (Shoshani, in Wilson and Reeder 2005). However, the most recent treatment of the genus Dendrohyrax retains D. validus as a full species (for now) [10][11]


  1. ^ Shoshani, J. (2005). "Order Hyracoidea". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 87. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  2. ^ Butynski, T.; Hoeck, H. & de Jong, Y.A. (2015). "Dendrohyrax arboreus". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2015: e.T6409A21282806. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-2.RLTS.T6409A21282806.en. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  3. ^ Smith, Andrew (1827). "Descriptions of two Quadrupeds inhabiting the South of Africa, about the Cape of Good Hope". Transactions of the Linnean Society of London. 15 (2): 468. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.1826.tb00127.x.
  4. ^ [Kingdon, J. 1971. East African Mammals: An Atlas of Evolution in Africa, Volume I. London: Academic Press Inc..]
  5. ^ a b c Milner, J. M.; Harris, S. (September 1999). "Activity patterns and feeding behaviour of the tree hyrax, Dendrohyrax arboreus, in the Parc National des Volcans, Rwanda". African Journal of Ecology. 37 (3): 267–280. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2028.1999.00184.x.
  6. ^[dead link]
  7. ^ [Hoeck, H. 2001. Hyraxes. Pp. 448-451 in D Macdonald, S Norris, eds. The New Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.]
  8. ^ The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Dendrohyrax validus
  9. ^ {{cite journal|last1=Gaylard|first1=A.|last2=Kerley|first2=G. I. H.|title=Diet of Tree Hyraxes Dendrohyrax arboreus (Hyracoidea: Procaviidae) in the Eastern Cape, South Africa|journal=Journal of Mammalogy|date=February 19[[97|volume=78|issue=1|pages=213–221|doi=10.2307/1382654}}
  10. ^ J. Kingdon; T. Butynski; M. Hoffmann; M. Happold & J. Kalina. Genus Dendrohyrax in: Mammals of Africa, Vol.1. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 152–171.
  11. ^ Hoeck, H.; Rovero, F.; Cordeiro, N.; Butynski, T.; Perkin, A.; Jones, T. (2015). "Dendrohyrax validus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2015: e.T136599A21288090. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-2.RLTS.T136599A21288090.en. Retrieved 27 May 2018.

Further reading[edit]

  • Gaylard, A.; Kerley, G. I. H. (June 2001). "Habitat assessment for a rare, arboreal forest mammal, the tree hyrax Dendrohyrax arboreus". African Journal of Ecology. 39 (2): 205–212. doi:10.1046/j.0141-6707.2000.301.x.
  • Rudnai, Judith (1984). "Suckling behaviour in captive Dendrohyrax arboreus (Mammalia: Hyracoidea)". South African Journal of Zoology. 19 (2): 121–123. doi:10.1080/02541858.1984.11447869.
  • Rudnai, Judith (1984). "Activity Cycle and space utilization in captive Dendrohyrax arboreus". South African Journal of Zoology. 19 (2): 124–128. doi:10.1080/02541858.1984.11447870.