'Rock rabbits' becoming a pest in Israel

Aug. 5, 2011 at 5:43 PM
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NAZARETH, Israel, Aug. 5 (UPI) -- Hyraxes, sometimes knows as rock rabbits, are fuzzy, cute and, in Israel at least, becoming a serious pest in residential areas, scientists say.

The animals have moved into neighborhoods of Galilee and have been destroying people's gardens.

"They're coming into the villages and eating everything they can find," University of Haifa researcher Arik Kershenbaum told the BBC.

Scientists say they think they know why: hyraxes love to make their homes in the debris from building sites, where they can lounge in the sun and still stay close to their bolt holes.

"It turns out that it's the piles of boulders [created by clearing sites for building] that attract the hyraxes," Kershenbaum said.

"We confirmed that they're attracted to the boulder piles rather than heading specifically for people's gardens," he said.

Suburban wildlife-watchers are fond of the hyraxes but some people have called for a cull.

Nothing that drastic is needed, researchers say; simply filling in the boulder piles would drive hyraxes out of the villages and back to their usual homes in the surrounding cliffs.

That would be a solution in line with the Bible, which mentions the creatures.

Proverbs 30:26 of the King James Bible says, "The rock badgers are a feeble folk, yet they make their homes in the crags."

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