wildlife of Namibia
Introduction: The original English name rock dassie (Procavia capensis) is derived from the Dutch das or rabbit. Alternate names have been used including hyrax, rock rabbit and stone badger. Rock dassies are gregarious creatures, living in colonies which vary in size according to habitat and amount of food available. Their padded feet allow for movement even on smooth surfaces and they are very agile when it comes to leaping from rock to rock. They do very little in the activity department, apart from foraging or moving into shade in hot weather.
In spite of their size difference, it is the African elephants closest living relative, because of their evolutionary relationship deduced from similarities in the structure of the feet and teeth. Their most striking behaviour is the use of sentries; one or more rock dassies will take a vantage point and issue alarm calls on the approach of predators.
Distribution: As the name suggests, the rock dassie only occurs where there are outcrops or rock in the form of koppies, hillsides or piles of loose boulders. They are widespread in Namibia and a great place to see them is at Ozohere Campsite, on the main road between Khorixas and Twyfelfontein and at Waterberg Plateau Restcamp. An association of bushes and trees would be required for them to browse. It is more versatile than its cousin, the yellow-spotted dassie.
Diet: Rock dassies are browsers or grazers depending on food sources and location. They will eat a variety of grasses and shrubs and they are very fast feeders.
Colouring: The colour of the upper parts of the body vary throughout their wide distribution range from a yellowish-buff to a reddish or greyish-brown. In the centre of the back there is an elongated patch of long black hair.
Breeding: Litter sizes can vary from 1 to 6 and the young are born in rock shelters. They are precocial, being born fully-haired with their eyes open. Within a day of birth, rock dassies are capable of agile movement on the rocks and also climb on to any adult's back within hours of birth
Size: Rock dassies are about 50cm in total length, the males have a mass of around 4.5kg and the females are slightly smaller and lighter.
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