Can you believe these little rock hyraxes are related to elephants?

Rock Hyrax

Edinburgh Zoo’s new arrivals may not look like much but these rock hyraxes are related too much larger cousins, elephants. The young rock hyraxes were born in the middle of February to mum Sarabi.

Since their birth the brother and sister duo have spent their time hiding in a burrow. Recently though they have started to be spotted indulging in the Scottish sun.

Animal Leader for Edinburgh Zoo, Lorna Hughes said, “The rock hyraxes here at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo love basking in the sun, and can often be seen lazing about on the rocks; this is because rock hyraxes have poorly developed thermoregulation. When it’s cold and rainy, as is often typical of Scottish weather, they prefer to stay in their burrows to try keep warm, but now with summer approaching they are often seen outside enjoying the sun.”

Rock hyrax

Sarabi has never before bred. She is doing very well as a mother. Unlike other small rodents it takes up to 7 ½ months for the baby’s to be born. This long gestation means they enter the world quite developed and are able to get going a few hours after birth. On their second day of life they may even take their first bites of plants. They suckle from mum for three months though.

Using fossils scientists have been able to discover that at one point a hyrax the size of a cow once existed. While rock hyraxes now have their own order, Hyracoidea they are regularly grouped with elephants, dugongs and sea cows as ‘sub ungulates due to the belied that they descend from a common ancestor.

Rock hyrax infants-Edinburgh

“Our rock hyrax babies are doing really well and they were up and running about soon after they were born. We haven’t named them yet as we normally wait a while before we name any new-borns. People are always really fascinated and interested when we tell them the hyraxes are distant relatives of the elephant,” added Hughes.

Currently six adult hyraxes live at Edinburgh Zoo along with the two babies. They have a large rocky enclosure that they can jump and run about in.

In Africa and the Middle East where they are naturally found they hide in cliff faces. They are adapted with black pads on their feet which increase grip. These adaptable creatures are found in both dense rainforest and dry savannah along with living at up to 14,000 ft (4267m).

Photo Credit: Edinburgh Zoo

By Cale Russell is a testament to Cale’s commitment to the education of people around the world on the topic of animals and conservation, through the sharing of topical and newsworthy information.

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