The tree hyrax or tree dassie is a small nocturnal mammal native to Africa. Distantly related to elephants and sea cows, the tree hyrax has 4-toed front feet and 3-toed back feet with rounded nails, and rubbery soles that help it climb.
The Southern Tree Hyrax spends most of its time in the trees as they are very clumsy on the ground and have difficulty walking. Avoiding the ground may also be a way that they avoid some of their ground-based predators. Their dens are generally made in the hollow of a decaying tree or a nook between two branches. They are nocturnal and mostly solitary, although they can sometimes be found in pairs.
They are perhaps the most distinguished for the distinctive, shrieking call of the male Southern Tree Hyrax announcing his territory. It has been described as beginning with a creaking noise, similar to the sound of tightening a ratchet, building to a crescendo, then dropping off to quieter screams.
Known predators are eagles (especially Verreaux eagles which exist almost entirely on Hyraxes), leopards, lions, jackals, spotted hyenas, feral dogs, and snakes.The Southern Tree Hyrax is vulnerable to extinction in the wild due to loss of habitat, though it is presently listed as "Least Concern" on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.