get rid

Urban Critters- Dassies

this cute little critter is a rock hyrax

better known as a dasi and while it

might look like a cross between a rat

and a rabbit that is neither incredibly

and despite the enormous difference in

size a disease closest relative is

actually the African elephant

Helen Payne is a zoologist and an expert

on these delightful creatures you can

look at the teeth of her fussy and the

teeth of an elephant and they have

similar current structures which no

other mammals have scientists believe

the elephant and the gussy have the same

evolutionary descendants not only

because of their teeth but because they

have similar looking feet both are

padded with stumpy toes and hoof like

nails and while they may not be as

majestic as their distant elephant

cousins being little has its advantages

the dasi has become an expert in urban

living squeezing into all kinds of small

city spaces this has two reasons why you

find studies in urban areas and one of

them is that people have moved into the

spaces that that it does is used to

occupy and the second reason is that

urban areas tend to provide lots of

places for them to breed this family of

Dusty's from proof in Durban have made a

storm water drain their home they are

adored by local residents who have put

up these signs to warn motorists to slow

down when approaching the Gussie's digs

up to 95 percent of their day is used to

laze around in the Sun they are unable

to regulate their body temperature very

well which means just like reptiles they

have to Sun themselves to get warm the

duckies are really social creatures it's

mostly the young females that stay in

the groups for their whole lives

and occasionally males will leave the

troops to go and form colonies elsewhere

he says urban Gussie's have lost many of

their natural predators like the Burrow

and crowned Eagles as well as leopards

and caracals the biggest threat now is

ongoing development Debbie Gardiner runs

a preschool in cool she says a desi

family moved into the bottom of her

garden a few years ago I think they've

come from the Paradise Valley Nature

Reserve which is just down the road from


they are building an eco state there and

with all the cars the vehicles the

building the comings are going people

there the whole time I think that this

is disturbed the natural environment and

habitat and they've moved across here

and made their home in my body she's

taken the opportunity to teach the

children about the animals and to have

respect for wildlife the dusties have

got fairly tame and the children know

this because they will come quite close

but I do let them know that they're not

allowed to touch or try and catch them

and run after them the rock hyrax is

found across Africa and the Middle East

and prefers rocky areas all that does

have these tiny little stumpy Lakes they

actually they they're designed to be a

rein humble on rocks which makes them

perfect for moving into heavily treed

areas in in cities for example which is

why they often set up colonies and

cheese with lots of vines in them which

is why many colonies are found in River

Ryan forests in the hills around Durban

Warren Friedman lives in Westville he

says his garden is close to a hundred

percent indigenous and believes this is

why - does he families have set up home

there the whole laughs we spent here all

the drama that I have occurs in our

garden and it's wonderful to him

Gussie's are very particular about where

they defecate and we'll set up a latrine

in an area away from where they live if

I do happen to make a mess on the

veranda which is one of the favourite

latrines it's just a matter of a hot

spot and those bushes are delighted to

present to the garden and fertilizer

daily life for the disease and Warren's

garden means getting on with a peculiar

extended family of vervet monkeys

they're aggressive when they're

defending the colony from her predators

but to most mammals they

inoffensive the monkeys and dassey's

regularly raid warrens organic compost

heap i refer to lhasa period if the

garden isn't being eaten there's

something wrong they primarily eat grass

and forage herds whatever they can find

within a short distance of the colony

mostly leaves sometimes fruits seeds

whatever they can get hold of and

occasionally insects to supplement their

diet so if you want disease in your yard

take a leaf out of Warren's book plant a

thoroughly indigenous garden share the

fruits of your labor with them and one

day just maybe when you go down to the

bottom of your garden you'll be in for a

big surprise