Look out for the dassies on your Table

Mountain hike

One of the most common animals to see on your Table Mountain hike is the endearing Rock Hyrax or dassie. This is a really cute looking animal that resembles a fat guinea pig. Generally they seem to laze around in the sun in large groups, and in the cable car area of Table Mountain have become so accustomed to the presence to humans that they allow people  to come incredibly close for a photo or 2.

A rock hyrax

A dassie peeks through a hole in the wall on Table Mountain

One of the amazing facts about the Dassie (and one which most Capetonians will happily inform you) is that the Dassies closest relative is the African Elephant. Bizzarre but true! Apparently way back when, the elephant, sea cow and the dassie all had a common ancestor. Other fascinating facts about this little creature is that it has a collapsible rib cage which allows it to squeeze into rock crevices, and that it has a rubbery sole to its foot giving it an amazing grip and allowing it to be incredibly agile on the cliffs surrounding Table Mountain.
A dassie on Table Mountain

The Dassies near the cable car allow photographers incredibly close

Its apparent lazing in the sun is in fact, a physical necessity as it has very poor internal temperature control and so needs to warm itself up in the sun. Whilst warming up in this fashion, one of the group will be tasked as look out. A high warning screech from this sentinal will send the troop rushing for cover under the nearest rock.