The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks; Proverbs 30:26

Growing up, I never could picture what these animals looked like.  None of the English names we have for these guys meant anything to me since I’d never seen one. If you look up Coney with an online dictionary, it will tell you that a coney is a fish (try to picture fish building a house in the rocks!). My kid’s dictionary says that ‘Coney’ is a different way of spelling ‘Cony’ which is a European Rabbit.
So, now you know why I was so confused, but…

What are they really like?

Two Hyraxes, photo credit: ArikkTurns out that the Biblical Coney, aka Rock Badgers, aka Hyrax is something that looks more like a ground hog! When I went to look them up last year, I realized that I had just read a story about their African cousins, The 3 Little Dassies, by Jan Brett*. Although in Africa they are known as Dassies, the most common name for them in English now is Hyrax [hi-raks]. The ones living in Israel are part of the Syrian Rock Hyrax family.

Studying this has been really fun, because the first thing I saw on the African Wildlife Foundation page is that they don’t fit neatly into any group of animals. Some Evolutionists say that they are really close relatives of elephants, sea cows, and manatees!! Now, that is pretty crazy. God defi

Rock Hyrax Range

nitely has a way of throwing wrenches into people’s neat “tree of life” machines.


From the picture, you can see that hyraxes look kind of like marmots, mongooses, and ground hogs.

They have short, thick, brownish fur that can range from light grey in the desert, to almost orange in southern Israel, to dark brown in greener areas.  They have small ears and thick bodies. Grown up Hyraxs weight around 9lbs and are about 20ins long, so they’re a little smaller than a ground hog.

Hyrax colony on rocks, photo credit: ArikkUnlike these other animals, Hyraxs don’t dig deep burrows. The places they choose for homes already have piles of rocks and crevasses to live in. They keep their homes tidy by deciding on one spot to use as a bathroom so the rest stays clean.

Hyraxs love to live in groups that range from 10 to as many as 80 members. Like prairie dogs, they post a sentry (usually the dad) to keep an eye out for danger while the rest find food. If the sentry spys danger, he will call a high pitched alarm and they all scurry into their hiding places among the rocks. This protection works so well that it is rare for one to be eaten by the south Judean wolves.

Singing is a favorite pastime for Hyraxes. They seem to let each other know how they’re feeling and keep in touch with neighboring groups with all kinds of whistles, twitters, shrieks, and growls. The Tree Hyraxs of Africa are nocturnal, so they keep all the neighbors awake at night with their squeals and screams.

To stay near the protection of their dens, Hyraxs only venture out about 150ft from their homes to look for food. They’re vegetarians, eating whatever kinds of plants they can find, especially grass and leaves. They have incisor teeth that are nearly tusks (that’s part of why people think Hyraxs are so close to elephants) to chew on tough plant parts.

Desert Hyraxs get most of their water from the plants they eat. They can climb trees and will get into people’s gardens to munch the citrus leaves there. They also will eat insects and grubs.

Hyrax in an Israeli tree, photo credit: Yael & Amihay

A mother Hyrax is pregnant for 6-7 months before giving birth to two or three babies. Compare that to a rabbit who only takes a month to pop out 4-12 babies! Baby Hyraxs are born with their eyes open and lots of fur to protect them. They start running around at just an hour old and try out the veggies within a day or two. They take over a year to grow up, while a rabbit only takes 6-7 months, but both animals live about the same length of time- about 10-12 years.

Hyraxs are a ‘lazy’ bunch. They spend about 95% of the time lying around. During the day they spend most of the time basking in the sun. Even though Hyraxs are mammals, they can’t keep their bodies constantly warm like we do. They get warmer and cooler with the day and night, so lying in the sun helps warm them like a snake.

Not surprisingly, the fossil record shows that before the Flood there were a lot more varieties of Hyraxs.  It shows that they lived in more places including Europe. And (guess what!) some of them were really big, “about the size of a small horse”!! Wow, that’s a big furry critter!

And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:25

Other websites I used to build this post:

Israeli Mammals

and a stop by Wikipedia, which is pretty decent on these animals (the pictures are from them)

*The Amazon link to 3 Little Dassies is an affiliate link. If you purchase anything from Amazon after clicking it, I get a percentage of the sale to support this ministry.

Cheri Fields

I'm a homeschooling blogger and book writer. The gift God has given me for His kingdom is to understand complex stuff (mostly) and share it with others using everyday words. It is a joy to share God's wonders with all kinds of people and especially the next generation!


roselline · at

Good read, I went to a revival two Sundays ago, where a Pastor taught from PROVERBS 31: I cant remember what verse of hand, but He made this creature so interesting to me that I just wanted to learn more. YOU GAVE VERY INSIGHTFUL INFRO, AN I REALLY ENJOYED READING IR. PLEASE DO MORE RESEARCH.

David Mendez · at

I was reading in Deuteronomy this morning where Moses is telling the Israelites what foods are clean and unclean. 14:7 says that of the animals that chew the cud and split the hoof that they cannot eat are the camel, the hare, and the rock badger. I googled rock badger because I didn’t know what it was and came across your blog. From the pictures, it looks like these creatures have little hands with 5 toes which would mean that they do not have a cloven hoof. I’m wondering if the rock badger in the Bible is referring to a different animal or if I just can’t tell from the picture. Do you have any additional information? I’m just interested in knowing, not hungry for rock badger :).

    Cheri Fields · at

    Hi, David! It was to find out what Moses and that Proverbs 30 guy were talking about that got me searching for these little critters.
    Have you tried doing an image search? I found some on GoodSearch right away, but not on Creative Commons to share. One thing is quite sure, they don’t have anything like hooves!
    Camels don’t have hooves either. The point was that having one characteristic wasn’t enough. Without both in place they weren’t clean.

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