DASSIES

What is there not to like about Dassies? We once had a baby dassie as a pet for a short while and it was delightful. Dassies usually settle in places where large rocks or boulders can provide them with the shelter they need.

There are several colonies of dassies in our town, although they are wary about showing themselves. Nonetheless, one sometimes sees some eating grass on a verge close to a drain pipe – their hidey-hole I imagine – it is a sign of how these creatures are adapting to urban living. There are a few out-of-the-way rocky places where they are less cautious, and some people have even found the odd dassie visitor in their gardens. I have read that dassies seldom move more than 50 m from where they live.

Correctly termed Rock Hyrax (Procavia capensis), dassies can best be appreciated in the wild, where their ever-smiling faces provide good cheer as they bask on warm rocks or nibble on the grass in the sun. The lighter patches of fur above their eyes give them a rather quizzical look.

They also eat leaves and mosses.

Dassies have four toes on their front feet and three on their hind-feet. While the toes all have nails, the inner toe of the hind-foot has a curved grooming claw.

The soles of their feet are naked and the thick skin is padded with glandular tissue which keeps the surface permanently moist to increase traction as they move over rocky areas or even climb trees. A part of the underside of their feet can retract, creating a suction cup for extra grip. Their robust furry bodies glisten in the sunlight and, a number of casual observers don’t notice this, they have no tails.

18 thoughts on “DASSIES

  1. I had to browse online a little to figure out where I had heard of hyraxes, and it was the Bible! I guess they are only superficially similar to the small creatures we have seen in the mountains especially, like pikas.

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