Hyena, Spotted

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Physical Characteristics

The largest of the hyena subspecies, spotted hyenas can weigh up to 190 lbs. The black spots for which they are named cover their otherwise tawny brownish-gold coats. Their front legs are longer than their hind ones, giving their profile a bison-like appearance. The females are usually larger than the males.

Habitat & Diet

Hyenas are spread throughout Africa and can make a home in any region where they can access food and water. Though they are famed as scavengers, they are also powerful hunters. Their bite is the strongest of any mammal, and they are tenacious enough that they have been observed warding lions away from food. They are opportunistic and their strong jaws allow them to eat every part of the animal, including bones and horns.

Social Behavior

Hyenas are highly social animals that live in groups called clans that can number up to 80 individuals! The clans are led by females. They have highly specialized calls for different situations ranging from an alert of a predator, calls to locate the rest of the clan or attempting to assert or submit to another clan member.

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Fascinating Facts

    • Despite their canine-like appearance, hyenas are actually more closely related to cats than dogs!
    • Due to how many bones and other hard calcium substances they devour while feeding off carcasses, their droppings can be used as marking chalk by the tribes of the African plains.
    • Hyenas are very green minded! As a clan roams in search of food, they will eat every part of any dead body they encounter. They are essentially the Serengeti‚Äôs cleaning crew!

Status In The Wild

Though they are widespread and have a stable population, their nasty reputation and frequent run-ins with humans do put them at risk of potentially being threatened. There have been instances of hyenas preying on livestock and raiding food stores, which leads to locals targeting them as pests. Hyenas live between 12 and 25 years, living longer depending on whether or not they are in the wild or captivity.

Waystation Residents

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