Hyrax – The Shrewmouse from Israel – Elephants Closets Relative?

While Svet and I traveled Israel this time we went to the Lebanon border and saw the grottoes! As always Svet loves to take pictures and movies. I picked this movie because it shows not only the star attraction of this article but some of the beautiful landscape that is around the area. While you watch the movie remember that the tiny little creatures that are shown in the film are a relative of the Elephant – Yes an Elephant…

Called a hyrax (from Greek ὕραξ “shrewmouse”) is any of four species of fairly small, thickset, herbivorous mammals in the order Hyracoidea: The Rock Hyrax Procavia capensis, the Yellow-spotted Rock Hyrax Heterohyrax brucei, the Western Tree Hyrax Dendrohyrax dorsalis, and the Southern Tree Hyrax, Dendrohyrax arboreus. They live in Africa and the Middle East.

Hyraxes are sometimes described as being the closest living relative to the elephant. This is because they may share an ancestor in the distant past when hyraxes were larger and more diverse.

Hyraxes are well-furred rotund creatures with a short tail. Most measure between 30–70 cm long and weigh between 2–5 kg. From a distance, a hyrax could be mistaken for a very well-fed rabbit or guinea pig. (Link)

My first reaction was that they are rodents but after closer examination of the creature I have discovered that they are very interesting and considered very important to the ecology of the Middle East.

So hope you enjoyed our little Israel tidbit of information today?

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