Sleep in the Rock Hyrax, Procavia capensisGravett N. · Bhagwandin A. · Lyamin O.I. · Siegel J.M. · Manger P.R.
aSchool of Anatomical Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; bDepartment of Psychiatry, UCLA School of Medicine, Brain Research Institute, Neurobiology Research 151A3, Sepulveda VA Medical Center, North Hills, Calif., USA
We investigated sleep in therock hyrax, Procavia capensis, a social mammal that typically lives in colonies on rocky outcrops throughout most parts of Southern Africa. The sleep of 5 wild-captured, adult rock hyraxes was recorded continuously for 72 h using telemetric relay of signals and allowing unimpeded movement. In addition to waking, slow wave sleep (SWS) and an unambiguous rapid eye movement (REM) state, a sleep state termed somnus innominatus (SI), characterized by low-voltage, high-frequency electroencephalogram, an electromyogram that stayed at the same amplitude as the preceding SWS episode and a mostly regular heart rate, were identified. If SI can be considered a form of low-voltage non-REM, the implication would be that the rock hyrax exhibits the lowest amount of REM recorded for any terrestrial mammal studied to date. Conversely, if SI is a form of REM sleep, it would lead to the classification of a novel subdivision of this state; however, further investigation would be required. The hyraxes spent on average 15.89 h (66.2%) of the time awake, 6.02 h (25.1%) in SWS, 43 min (3%) in SI and 6 min (0.4%) in REM. The unambiguous REM sleep amounts were on average less than 6 min/day. The most common state transition pathway in these animals was found to be wake → SWS → wake. No significant differences were noted with regard to total sleep time, number of episodes and episode duration for all states between the light and dark periods.Thus, prior classification of the rock hyrax as strongly diurnal does not appear to hold under controlled laboratory conditions.