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Hyraxes: Hyracoidea

Physical Characteristics

Hyraxes are herbivores, plant eaters, that resemble guinea pigs. They have short legs, a stubby tail, and round ears. There is no average size, as the species vary greatly across Africa, but the growth of the hyrax seems to be directly linked to precipitation, or rainfall—the largest hyraxes are in the areas with the most rainfall.

The feet have pads on them that contain sweat glands. The hyrax sweats as it runs, which help its feet pads grip, making it easier to climb. The feet are flexible and can turn upwards. The front foot has four toes and the hind foot has three toes. All toes have flat nails except for the second toe of the hind foot. This toe sports a long, curved claw used for grooming.

All hyraxes have fur, but the length of it depends on the climate in which they live. The colder the temperature, the longer the fur. Coat color ranges from light to dark, and may be brown, white, or gray. The bulging eyes are framed by bushy white eyebrows. The head is flat on top, and the muzzle, nose and mouth area, is shaped like a skunk's muzzle.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsHyraxes: Hyracoidea - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Behavior And Reproduction, Southern Tree Hyrax (dendrohyrax Arboreus): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, DIET, HYRAXES AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS