- Taxonomically unusual. While the vast majority of placental mammals are in the clade Boreoeutheria, hyraxes are in the clade Afrotheria.
- Social animal. Quite. As is the bush hyrax, which I'd also consider.
- Intelligent. The Rock hyrax has a complex social system, a complex system of vocalizations, and is seen as a smart animal in Jewish folklore. (Admittedly, owls are seen as smart in America folklore, so that's not necessarily the best guide.)
- Somewhat playful, but not too energetic. See this video.
- Adaptable to a wide range of habitats.
- Varied diet. The rock hyrax is omnivorous.
- Cute and cuddly.
- Small and non-aggressive.
- Kept successfully as a pet in its native range. Plenty of videos on YouTube of that, and one of a Czech guy with what appears to be a parent-raised animal.
The only thing it's missing from my list is that it's not native to the continental United States. (For some reason, I prefer native species to non-native ones.)
Hyraxes are also completely legal to import to the United States, and not controlled by CITES. However it appears that nobody has imported them for the purposes of breeding. When I look for hyraxes, I only find a couple of old ads for animals imported as adults. Some of the animals for sale are bush hyraxes, and I'd settle for a bush hyrax (I'd even give a tree hyrax a shot, despite them being non-solitary animals), but I'd want an animal that was socialized with humans from a young age. And alas, nobody in the US or even Europe seems to be selling hand-raised or baby hyraxes.
Does anybody know why this is? Have people tried breeding hyraxes and failed? Or is there just no demand? And if not, why is there no demand? Hyraxes are awesome, and totally adorable. Check out this video of a zoo animal riding a tortoise.