Basking is a behaviour frequently observed in the rock hyrax (Procavia capensis) during winter that supposedly plays a significant role in rewarming from nocturnal hypothermia. This behaviour, together with changes in body temperature and changes in black bulb temperatures (Tbb) were investigated in the natural environment. In this study, rock hyraxes did not reduce their body temperature substantially overnight and thus basking was not used for rewarming but rather to maintain constant body temperatures under low ambient conditions. Frequency of basking changed throughout the day as Tbb increased and decreased. Different basking postures (hunched or flat), orientations to the sun and basking bout lengths were modified depending on Tbb experienced. There was no difference in body temperature between the two basking postures at any Tbb. It appears that rock hyraxes did not use basking behaviour as a way of warming up after night-time but used it during the day as a diurnal energy conserving mechanism.
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Vol. 42 • No. 1