Scientific Name: Crocuta crocuta (spotted hyena)
Average lifespan in the wild: Up to 25 years
Size: Head and body, 34 to 59 in (86 to 150 cm); Tail, 10 to 14 in (25 to 36 cm)
Weight: 110 to 190 lbs (50 to 86 kg)
Group name: Clan
Found in these Heartlands: Kazungula, Samburu
What does a hyena look like?
The hyena (spelled "hyeana" in some parts of the world) is Africa's most common large carnivore. Over the years hyenas and humans have come into close contact in Africa and, in earlier times, in Asia and in Europe, often leading to mutual predation. In ancient Egypt hyenas were domesticated, fattened and eaten, and in turn humans have on occasion become food for hyenas. Reputed to be cowardly and timid, the hyena can be bold and dangerous, attacking animals and humans.
Where do hyenas live?
Spotted hyenas are found in grasslands, woodlands, savannas, subdeserts, forest edges and mountains.
The hyena family, native to both African and Asian continents, consists of four living species, the Striped Hyena and Brown Hyena, the Spotted Hyena, and the Aardwolf.
What does a hyena eat?
The spotted hyena is a skillful hunter but also an opportunistic scavenger. It consumes animals of various types and sizes, carrion, bones, vegetable matter and other animals' droppings. The powerful jaws and digestive tract of the hyena allow it to process and obtain nutrients from skin and bones. The only parts of prey not fully digested are hair, horns and hooves; these are regurgitated in the form of pellets. The high mineral content of the bones hyenas consume make their droppings a highly visible, chalky white.
What are the natural enemies of the hyena?
Hyenas have long conflicted with human populations. African legends and folklore associate the hyena with witchcraft and the supernatural. Like many predators, hyenas become targeted when they take livestock for prey.
How do hyenas live together?
Spotted hyenas are organized into territorial clans of related individuals. The center of clan activity is the den, where the cubs are raised and individuals meet. Hyenas mark and patrol their territories by depositing a strong-smelling substance produced by the anal glands on stalks of grass along the boundaries. "Latrines," places where members of a clan deposit their droppings, also mark territories. Hyenas are social animals that communicate with one another through specific calls, postures and signals.
What animal are hyenas related to?
Hyenas look remarkably similar to dogs, but in fact are more closely related to cats. Fur color is sandy to gray-brown with dark spots. The front legs are relatively long in comparison to the hind legs, giving this animal a distinct profile. Africa is their usual home base, but some hyenas can be found in southern parts of Asia.
Are hyenas good hunters?
In packs hyenas are formidable hunters and can take down animals as large as zebras. They are also talented scavengers and have no fear when protecting a kill from other animals, even lions. Their jaws have bone-crunching strength and their digestive systems are adapted to digest bone and skin, animal parts that other predators cannot handle. While hyenas are known as scavengers, they also possess great intelligence and skill on the hunt. One strategy is for a single hyena to cause confusion in the herd, while the others in the pack pick off an older or weaker member and chase the rest away.
Are hyenas smart?
Hyenas are remarkably intelligent, perhaps rivaling monkeys. Their societies are structured similar to those of baboons, macaques and vervet monkeys, and they socialize and cooperate in similar ways.
Did You Know this about hyenas?
Hyenas make a variety of vocalizations, including wailing calls, howling screams and the well-known "laughter" used to alert other clan members up to three miles away of a food source.
Hyenas eat a great variety of animal products, vegetation and, according to campers, even aluminum pots and pans.
Spotted hyenas are quite vocal and make a wide variety of sounds, including the "laughing" that has long been associated with their name.
Hyenas likely descended from small, arboreal creatures that resemble modern-day civets. A civet is a long, slender, cat-like animal with an elongated muzzle.
The largest hyena species that ever lived, the giant hyena, was about the size of a lion and could crush elephant bones.
The largest species of hyena is the spotted hyena, which can weigh over 150 pounds. The spotted hyena shows submission to other members of the pack by emitting a variety of sounds, the most famous being the hyena's laugh.
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Hyena coloring pages
Download free Hyena coloring pages, click on the image to open the large version.