The rock hyrax (Procavia capensis), also called Cape hyrax, rock rabbit, and (in the Bible) coney, is a medium-sized terrestrial mammal native to Africa and the Middle East. Commonly referred to in South Africa as the dassie, it is one of the five living species of the order Hyracoidea, and the only one in the genus Procavia. The rock hyrax is found at elevations up to 4,200 metres in habitats with rock crevices allowing it to escape from predators. Having incomplete thermoregulation, it is most active in the morning and evening, although its activity pattern varies substantially with season and climate.
Prominent in and apparently unique to hyraxes is the dorsal gland, which excretes an odour used for social communication and territorial marking. The gland is most clearly visible in dominant males. The rock hyrax has a prominent pair of long, pointed tusk-like upper incisors which are reminiscent of the elephant, to which the hyrax is distantly related. The forefeet are plantigrade, and the hind feet semi-digitigrade. The soles of the feet have large, soft pads that are kept moist with sweat-like secretions. In males, the testes are permanently abdominal, another anatomical feature that hyraxes share with their relatives elephants and sirenians.
Thermoregulation in the rock hyrax has been subject to much research, as their body temperature varies with a diurnal rhythm. However, animals kept in constant environmental conditions also display such variation and this internal mechanism may be related to water balance regulation.
Rock hyraxes build dwelling holes in any type of rock with suitable cavities such as sedimentary rocks and soil. In Mount Kenya, rock hyraxes live in colonies comprising an adult male, differing numbers of adult females and immatures. They are active during the day, and sometimes during moonlit nights. The dominant male defends and watches over the group. The male also marks its territory.
In Africa, hyraxes are preyed on by leopards, Egyptian cobras, puff adders, rock pythons, caracals, wild dogs, hawks, and owls. Verreaux's eagle in particular is a specialist hunter of hyrax.
Source : Wikipedia