Hyenas: What You Should Know

Hyenas are carnivores and live in Africa and Central Asia. There are no hyenas in the wild in Europe. Hyena species include the brown hyena, striped hyena, and spotted hyena.

Depending on the species of hyena, the brown fur is spotted, striped, or predominantly black-brown. The ears are light brown. Hyenas have fluffy black tails. Hyenas have four toes on their front and rear legs. The paws have blunt claws that cannot be retracted. One of the most striking features of hyenas is their mane. It reaches over the neck and back and can be set up.

The largest species of hyena is the spotted hyena. It can grow up to 170 centimeters long, about the length of a bicycle. The other hyena species are significantly smaller. In all species, the front legs are longer than the hind legs. As a result, they have a strongly sloping back.

In nature, hyenas live for about 20 years. The oldest spotted hyena in a zoo even lived to be 40 years old.

How and what do hyenas live on?

Hyenas live in large packs of up to 100 animals. They have their own territory. They have to defend themselves against other packs. The center of the district is the burrow in which the young are raised. A pack is led by a female, the males have to submit.

While the brown and striped hyenas prefer to feed on dead animals, the spotted hyenas hunt in packs. At dusk, they hunt wildebeest, zebra, antelope, and buffalo together. For a zebra or a buffalo, up to 20 hyenas have to work together to take down the prey. They also like to chase other predators away from their prey. With their powerful jaws and strong teeth, they even crush bones.

Hyenas play an important role in nature. When they eat dead animals or hunt sick animals, they help curb plagues and diseases.

The hyenas do not have a specific mating season in the year but give birth all year round. The gestation period of hyenas lasts about three months. One to five young is born per litter, which are suckled by the mother for a year and a half.

The greatest threat to hyenas comes from humans. Man hunts hyenas because they attack his livestock. Lions and other predators can also attack hyenas.

Hyenas became famous on film through the Walt Disney film “The Lion King”. Here, Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed are three hyenas who don’t necessarily excel at being clever.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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