This document attempts to list all the possible military applications of hyraxes and related species. Some of these applications are relatively mundane, while others are quite absurd. This document would most likely be of more use for video game development than for actual warfare.
And, realistically, its usefulness for video game development is also highly suspect.
|Taken by Yair Rand on Wikimedia (Creative Commons)||Taken by Josski on Wikimedia (Public Domain)|
These are pictures of hyraxes. A hyrax is sort of like a bunny, but isn't related except to the extent that they're both mammals. In fact, hyraxes don't have all the adaptations that are common among mammals. They have the main features: fur, mammillary glands, nipples, placentas, etc., but they don't regulate their temperature as well as other mammals. They have to huddle together for warmth and bask in the sun like reptiles.  They also use molars instead of incisors to chew food and have short legs, which are also supposed to be "primitive" features. 
Granted, hyraxes don't have as many primitive features as marsupials and monotremes, but they're still somewhat primitive. They certainly aren't bunnies despite having a similar appearance and occupying a similar ecological niche.
Hyraxes are related to elephants and manatees. Hyraxes may seem to have little in common with elephants, but both have toenails, excellent hearing, sensitive pads on their feet, small tusks, good memory, relatively high brain function, and some similarly shaped bones. Everything in between hyraxes and elephants on the tree of life is extinct. 
Hyraxes do have some nifty adaptations. Their feet have rubbery pads that can form "suction cups" that let them climb on rocks or trees, but their feet aren't adapted for burrowing the way bunnies' feet are.  Their kidneys and sweat glands are efficient, allowing them to survive in low-water environments. 
Hyraxes eat mostly leaves, twigs, fruit, bark, and grass. Their digestive system uses symbiotic bacteria to enable the digestion of fiber. Male hyraxes fight for dominance of their territories , and the winners maintain harems of females in small family groups. In some conditions, males may have multiple harems, each of which occupy a separate range. 
Hyraxes have some interesting behavior as well. When a group of hyraxes grazes, an adult hyrax will stand watch for predators. If a predator approaches, the lookout makes a noise that will send them running for cover. A hyrax's strong legs allow it to run and jump quickly enough that it will probably escape, especially since it can climb over rocks (and sometimes trees). When cornered, a hyrax will grind its teeth, growl, and even bite. Their fracking tusks can do alot of damage, even though hyraxes are relatively small animals. 
One more thing - hyraxes have a special gland that secretes a smelly liquid from their backs. This liquid may be used to mark a male's territory or to help a female identify her young. 
These are somewhat practical military applications of hyraxes that might potentially work in the real world.
Bait: Perhaps this isn't truly a military application, but hyraxes could be used as bait in traps for larger animals.
Food: The Bible has explicitly declared hyraxes (sometimes translated to rabbits or rock badgers) not to be kosher because they don't have split hooves (or even hooves at all).  Since the Bible had to declare this, hyraxes must be edible. Soldiers can hunt and eat hyraxes, and it should be possible to raise them in captivity as well. Rabbits are probably safer, and there are an abundance of other edible animals. Still, hungry soldiers should always be aware that they can eat hyraxes or feed hyraxes to their dogs.
Target Practice: Hyraxes are small targets the run fast and move erratically. If you can hit a hyrax, you can probably hit a person.
These military applications are entirely impractical. They might work in fiction though.
Bomb Camouflage: You can tie hyraxes to bombs or grenades. Then when you drop/throw the bombs/grenades, people will just see falling hyraxes and won't run away. Then again, people who know how prone hyraxes are to biting people might run away anyways.
Bridges: Need to cross a river or chasm? Throw dead hyraxes into it until the bodies pile up to the point that you can just walk across.
Ecological Warfare: If you were to release hyraxes in an area devoid of predators, they would most likely consume all the vegetation in the area before starving to death. It would be much like Tribbles in Star Trek. This would be effective against pacifists who wouldn't kill the hyraxes because they are so cute. Unfortunately, it would only take one Hitler-esque psychopath to set up hyrax concentration camps and kill them all. Hyraxes don't breed as fast as tribbles and aren't as cute, making this more than a little bit unrealistic.
Living Ammunition: You can fire hyraxes from blunderbusses, bows, or cannons. Or you can just throw them. If you throw them, they will probably survive being thrown and then start biting whatever they hit. It's like brood lords in Starcraft 2 or those crab things in Half-Life.
Rotting Meat: Rotten meat can cause disease. Just dump hyrax carcasses all around the enemy stronghold. This can be combined with the living ammunition idea: just launch hyraxes from catapults to get them into the stronghold. They'll turn into rotting meat when they hit the ground. This has been done with cows and so forth, so there's no reason it can't be done with hyraxes.
Scouts: Hyraxes run fast, can jump, and can climb over rocks and trees. They're also small enough that they can fit into small areas. If you were to tie a video camera to one, you could use it for scouting purposes.
Soldiers: You could use trained or mind controlled hyraxes as soldiers. They have a strong bite, so they could be dangerous in large numbers. It would be just like zerglings in Starcraft 2.
Traps: You can put hyraxes in treasure chests and leave them in dungeons. When some adventurer opens the treasure chest, the hyraxes will jump out and bite him. Just make sure there's some kind of food supply in the chest as well. You'll have to restock the chest periodically to keep the hyraxes from dying. It might be better to only leave the chest somewhere that people will find it quickly so that you don't have to give the hyraxes as much food.
These are ways that hyraxes could be modified to make them more effective for various military applications.
Amphibious Hyraxes: Swimming hyraxes that could then walk on land would be able to get into more out-of-the-way locations. I think there's some unit in Warcraft 3 that does this, though it's not bunny-like at all. Honestly, it might make more sense to just use turtles.
Armored Hyraxes: Armored hyraxes would be harder to kill and would thus be able to inflict more damage with their bites. The main problem with this is that armored hyraxes might not be as mobile as the unarmored variety.
Assimilation Hyraxes: Assimilation is the act of projecting tentacles from your mouth, grabbing an enemy, pulling it in, and slowly digesting it. If hyraxes could do this, they'd be really dangerous, especially in large numbers. The small size of the hyrax might make this impossible.
Burrowing Hyraxes: It probably wouldn't be difficult to modify hyraxes so that they could burrow like bunnies, though this would eliminate their climbing ability. Burrowing hyraxes could tunnel under enemy fortifications, allowing other hyraxes easy access for an invasion.
Electric Hyraxes: Much like Pikachu (yes, the electric rat from Pokemon), electric hyraxes could cause some serious havoc. In fact, electric anything could cause some serious havoc.
Exploding Hyraxes: Exploding hyraxes could do some serious damage, just like anything else that explodes. Since hyraxes can run fast, jump, climb, and fit into small areas, exploding hyraxes could be a serious nuisance. It would be like Starcraft 2's banelings or Geneforge's pyroroamers except that they could climb over rubble. Combining this with "Jumping Hyraxes" would create a unit that gives the reapers' jumping ability to banelings. Then again, it might as well be combined with "Flying Hyraxes" or "Teleporting Hyraxes".
Fast Breeding Hyraxes: Hyraxes already breed pretty fast, but if they bred at the same speed as tribbles, they would be more effective at ecological destruction. Don't forget that the tribbles brought the klingon empire to its knees!
Fast Running Hyraxes: Hyraxes already run pretty faster, but they could run even faster. They would be like speedlings from Starcraft 2. They would make good scouts and possibly even good soldiers if there were enough of them.
Firebreathing Hyraxes: Obviously, anything that breathes fire is going to be dangerous. Alternatively, they could breath ice, acid, or something else. Bombardier beetles spray hot steam, which might be a more realistic variation of this. 
Flying Hyraxes: Flying hyraxes would make even better scouts. Of course, why not just use doves or bats or something that can already fly?
Giant Hyraxes: There used to be giant hyraxes, so this one should be easy. Some of them were really big, and some of them evolved into elephants. Elephants are dangerous, so giant hyraxes probably would be too.
Glowing Hyraxes: Hyraxes that glow in the dark could be used as a mobile light source for dungeon exploration. Ridiculous? The South Koreans have already made glowing cats, so why not make glowing hyraxes? 
Hyrax Rain: Recall stories about frogs or cats and dogs falling from the sky like rain? Why not do the same thing with hyraxes? That would have to cause some damage. Maybe people could just drop them out of plans. It certainly wouldn't do as much damage as taping bombs to hyraxes, but it would still annoy people to have to dodge falling hyraxes and then dispose of the corpses.
Hyraxes with Trunks: Hyraxes are related to elephants, so why not give them trunks like elephants have? They could then pick stuff up and manipulate objects. That could make them useful if they could be controlled somehow.
Jumping Hyraxes: Hyraxes can already jump, but they would be more effective if they could jump extraordinarily high. Like being able to jump up and down cliffs. They would be similar to reapers in Starcraft 2.
Plague Hyraxes: The Bubonic Plague was caused by fleas that lived on rats.  It should be possible for hyraxes to carry some sort of disease as well. The only problem is that their contact with humans would generally be less than that of rat fleas.
Poison Hyraxes: If hyraxes were poisonous, predators that ate them would die. This would allow the other poisonous hyraxes to survive, which could aid them in causing ecological damage. Giving them poisonous fangs could also be quite effective since they already have quite powerful incisors.
Radioactive Hyraxes: Radioactive hyraxes would irradiate everything around them. This would cause massive damage, but they would have to be given some sort of resistance to their own radiation. This would be much like Glowing Ones from Fallout 3.
Regenerating Hyraxes: One of the main problems with using hyraxes in warfare is that they die so easily. Like armor, regeneration would make hyraxes that much harder to kill. Starcraft 2's zerglings regenerate, so why can't hyraxes do the same?
Shapeshifting Hyraxes: A hyrax could use it's small size and high maneuverability to get behind enemy forces. If that hyrax could also shapeshift, it could then turn into something that could do some serious damage. There wouldn't have to be much variety - just shapeshifting into a dragon or at least a werewolf would be fine.
Teleporting Hyraxes: Being able to teleport is even better than being able to run fast, jump, and climb. A teleporting hyrax would most likely be like a blink stalker from Starcraft 2 (with the notable absence of a ranged attack). Alternatively, they might be able to teleport vast distances. This could be useful for scouting purposes. If combined with any offensive ability on this list, teleporting hyraxes would be excellent for eliminating support units behind enemy lines.
Tusked Hyraxes: Hyraxes already have tusks, so you don't even have to modify them to get this. I suppose their tusks could be made to be more dangerous though.
Zerg Hyraxes: If Hyraxes were assimilated by the zerg species, they would probably be something like zerglings.
Zombie Hyraxes: Zombies are dangerous. Sort of. Ok, maybe they're not that dangerous, but their ability to zombify with their bites could be dangerous to civilians. Zombie hyraxes would be much more difficult to hunt down and exterminate than zombie humans. They're so small that you would almost certainly miss one somewhere, and then the zombie plague would start all over.
Hyraxes are what bunnies would be if they were like miniature elephants with anger management problems. There are many ways in which they could be useful in war... if they weren't so small. If they were better at killing, they could do some serious dangerous. While normal hyraxes probably would have only limited use in warfare, genetically modified hyraxes could shift the balance of power.
One could argue that people would be better off modifying wolves or chimpanzees or something. In fact, parts of this document could be applied to other animals or video game monsters equally well. But hyraxes are far more sinister.
Copyright (C) 2011 Steven Fletcher. All rights reserved.