Status: Least Concern
Names: southern tree hyrax, tree rabbits,
Description: The southern tree dassie has a guinea pig-like appearance. It has long, soft, grey-brown fur that covers the body, while the underside is paler. Hairs are lighter near their tips and the ears have a fringe of white hair. Dassies have long, sharp claws that help them to climb trees and rocks.
Also known as a dassie. Two types of dassie occur in Zambia, the tree dassie and the yellow spotted dassie, although they are almost impossible to distinguish. The latter is more terrestrial than arboreal, but both feed on various plants, fruit and lichen growing on the rocks. The word "dassie" is a Dutch word that means "badger" or "marmot". It is thought to have been introduced to Zambia by the Boers in the 19th century.
Fun Facts !
Southern tree dassie's are the largest of the three species and are found in forests and woodlands throughout Zambia. Dassies are the closest living relatives of elephants and manatees. Dassies have thick fur that helps to protect them from the sun and cold. Dassies have a unique dental formula that is similar to that of elephants.
Ecology and Behaviour
The tree hyrax lives in trees and is mostly nocturnal, as opposed to the rock dassie which lives among rocks and is mainly diurnal. It occurs singly, in pairs or in small groups, favouring hollow trees and dense foliage. Tree dassie are extremely able climbers with remarkable balancing skills, they do walk on the ground, but will often 'bounce' along rapidly then stop and then move rapidly again to get to the next piece of cover. Its extraordinary call, heard mainly at night, is a series of blood-curdling shrieks building up to a crescendo. These territorial calls are produced mainly by the males. Martial and tawny eagles, leopards, lions, jackals, spotted hyenas, and snakes prey upon the southern tree hyrax. Dassies are very vocal animals and communicate with each other using a variety of calls.
Distribution and Habitat
It is found in Angola, Zambia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, and South Africa. The southern tree dassie is a herbivore. It consumes many different parts of the plants such as the leaves, petioles, twigs, shoots, fleshy fruit, and hard seeds
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