The Scariest Animal in Africa

There is one animal I came across in Africa that gave me nightmares.

No, it wasn’t a lion, hippo, cobra or scorpion. I came across all of those and didn’t flinch. This was more of a wolf in sheep clothing type of scary creature, except it was a Dassie in Devil fur.

The cutely named Dassie has many aliases, probably because of it’s secret scariness. Rock Rabbit and Rock Rat are a couple of alternative names. You get the idea – they are furry things that mostly hang out around rocky outcrops.

In reality their official name is a Hyrax and along with Sea Cows (real name Dugongs) they’re the closest relatives on Earth to Elephants.

The ones I came across in Tanzania are Bush Hyrax, or Yellow-spotted Rock Hyrax. Want to see one of these beasts? Are you sure? Ok, you’ve been warned…

Yellow-spotted Rock Hyrax

A Yellow-spotted Rock Hyrax in the Serengeti


Ya, ok. They even look cute. But it is just a disguise. Watch these evil creatures long enough and you’ll see another side to them.

When a mature  Hyrax gets excited, a bump on their back starts to form…called a dorsal gland. This gland opens up, pushing fur to the sides, as if giving birth to some mutant life form. They move around oddly too, it’s all so strange that you expect their eyes to start glowing red and shoot laser beams at you. Well, at least that’s what happened in my nightmares.

Supposedly they only secrete some weird liquid or something, no actual aliens and it’s only done when they’re wanting to mate or are feeling threatened.

A Dassie or Yellow-spotted Rock Hyrax

A 'cute' Dassie or Yellow-spotted Rock Hyrax, getting ready to birth some aliens


Still, if you saw one of these things open up a crazy looking gland on it’s back you’d freak out too. I’ve saved you the horror of seeing the scariest photos…you can always use your friend Google if you dare.


About Red Hunt

A former journalist and business analyst that now works in the world of travel marketing. Based in Toronto, Red Hunt has travelled to more than 40 countries over the past 10 years. You can follow Red on Twitter @redhunttravel.