DASSIE PORTRAIT

It is about a year since I wrote about the delightful dassies we see in this country. That is what they are commonly known as: their ‘important’ name is Rock Hyrax (Procavia capensis). Dassies have endearingly short, stocky bodies with small ears and short tails.

I find their heart-shaped black noses rather appealing.

An intriguing fact is that their closest living relative is none other than the African elephant! The similarities in the structure of their feet and teeth apparently point to this evolutionary relationship.

Another interesting fact is that to enable them to see possible predators, such as Black Eagles, coming out of the sun, and to take evasive action, dassies have evolved a moveable membrane in the eye which shields the pupil and allows vision directly into the sun.

In the photograph below you can see the darkish spot on the back of this dassie. This is its dorsal gland, which is used to secrete a smell to mark their territories.

31 thoughts on “DASSIE PORTRAIT

    • Thank you – I enjoy seeing them sunning themselves on the rocks, although they are quick to seek shelter at the first sign of perceived danger.

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  1. The closest thing we have here is the pika, which I’ve encountered many times in the mountains, where they frequent picnic areas such as near waterfalls, hoping for snacks. I’ve never heard the name Dassie before; it sounds friendlier than hyrax.

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