7 Fun Facts That Will Make You Fall In With Love The Dassie
You may know the Dassie (Afrikaans) as a rock hyrax. The dassie may look like a rodent but it isn’t one. It has been reported that this little creature is closely related to elephants.
Dassies are mainly found in the drier and rocky areas of Africa, especially sub-Saharan Africa and NorthEast Africa. Matobo Hills and Serengeti in Tanzania are some examples of these areas.
Here are some interesting things about the dassie that will amaze you.
1. The dassie’s upper incisors grow continuously. If you look closely at the image below, you can see the two teeth protruding from its mouth. Since they don’t stop growing, this means those teeth will probably end up looking like tiny tusks. Just like its relatives’.
2. Even though dassies are diurnal, they spend most of this “active” time doing absolutely nothing. A little bit of it is spent looking for food or interacting. Apparently, the dassies will be trying to avoid predators or save their energy.
3. The rock hyrax has an unusually long gestation period. Pretty much like the elephant’s. Its babies, known as pups, are born in summer after around seven to eight months. These pups are usually born around the same summer time each year. Did we also mention that they’re born with their eyes and ears open?
4. Dassies are very sociable creatures. They tend to live in large groups of up to 80 dassies. These often comprise a male dassie being in charge of several females and their pups. These large groups are widely distributed in protected areas.
This is why the dassie is listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as “least concern”. This means they are highly unlikely to go extinct any time soon. This doesn’t mean that this creature doesn’t have predators to keep a watchful eye on.
5. The rock hyrax has excellent vision which allows it to directly look at the sun. It’s also quite capable of spotting a predator from afar. Some of its predators include eagles, pythons, caracals and leopards. It’s a good thing that this creature has such a special set of eyes. How else would it be able to keep a keen watch on the eagle without damaging its eyes?
The little creatures are also said to eat in a circular formation with their heads pointing towards the outside of the circle. Why they do this? To keep an eye on any of their predators.
6. Dassies love to sunbathe and keep warm a lot. During the night, they often sleep on top of each other and this is known as “heaping“. Their day often starts with catching some sun on the rocks for several hours before they start searching for food. Since these little critters are not fans of the cold or wet weather, they are difficult to spot when the weather is not to their liking.
7. Dassies have short, hoofed legs and a short tail. They have four rounded toes on the front feet while the back feet have three. The toes all have nails. However, the back foot has a long nail which it uses to pick through its fur or scratch itself. This nail is called the grooming claw, unsurprisingly.
The soles of the feet are thick and padded and this helps keep them permanently moist. This moisture helps the dassies to easily climb steep and smooth rocks.