Tree hyrax

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Tree hyraxes[1]
Western tree hyrax, Dendrohyrax dorsalis
Scientific classification

Gray, 1868

The tree hyrax or tree dassie is a small nocturnal mammal native to Africa. Distantly related to elephants and sea cows, it comprises the only three species in the genus Dendrohyrax and the only mammal in the family Procaviidae, making it the only living family within the order Hyracoidea.

The three species are:

The tree hyrax has 4-toed front feet and 3-toed back feet with rounded nails, and rubbery soles that help it climb.[5]


Dependent on geographical location, their soft dense coats can range from a pale gray to light or dark brown. The variation is consistent with evolutionary development to aid with camouflage, so that in wetter regions with more verdant and abundant vegetation they are darker, and in more arid areas their colouring is lighter.

Despite being more common than its cousin the rock hyrax, the tree hyrax is much more difficult to spot, as it is both nocturnal and extremely shy.

Territorial call[edit]

The male has a distinctive territorial call that starts with a series of loud measured cracking sounds, sometimes compared to 'a huge gate with rusted hinges being forced open'. This is then followed by a series of 'unearthly screams', ending in a descending series of expiring shrieks. Females also call, but lack the air pouches and enlarged larynx of the male, producing only a feeble imitation. On average there are two peak calling periods per night. Times vary, but the first period is often 2 –3 hours after dark, and the second at some point after midnight.[5]


  1. ^ Shoshani, J. (2005). Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M., eds. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 87–88. 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 27 May 2018.
  3. ^ 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.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  4. ^ Butynski, T.; Dowsett-Lemaire, F.; Hoeck, H. (2015). "Dendrohyrax dorsalis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2015: e.T6410A21282601. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-2.RLTS.T6410A21282601.en. Retrieved 27 May 2018.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  5. ^ a b Estes, Richard D. (1999). The Safari Companion. Chelsea Green Publishing Company. ISBN 1-890132-44-6.