Dassies 3 – Animal Family

This week, there’s more on the unique little dassies and their unlikely ancestors….

Our Urban Wild


 The dassies are the most abundant, the commoners, the commuters, the bourgeois. They are marvellously equipped for the kind of life they lead.

About half a metre long, the dassie or hyrax is like a mini-hippo – plumply compact on short stubby legs. It has a rounded butt and no tail. Round ears sit above a squarish face with a wide mouth clearly designed to take large loads, like the back of a furniture van, topped by a straight pale moustache.

It is in a class of its own, the order Hyracoidea, and there are several kinds, the others living in forest or desert. Ours, the rock dassie or “rock rabbit” is the commonest. The name “dassie” is a misnomer: when the first Dutch settlers in the Cape saw them nearly four centuries ago they searched in bewilderment for a suitable name and eventually settled on that for…

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