Spotted Hyena

The spotted hyena is the dog like carnivorous species, they are scavenger mammals. We can say they tend to eat another animal’s kill, rather than hunting its own food. The spotted hyena is the largest member of the Hyaenidae family comparative to the others. Female laughing hyenas are larger than the males.

Spotted Hyena

Spotted Hyena’s scientific name is ‘Crocuta’ and sometimes called laughing hyena, because of their cackling smile which they use to call other members. They alert other hyenas of a source of food by using their cackling laugh-line scream. Scientist says that laughing hyenas never laugh just for fun but it can an indication of social status and it’s age.

The front legs of a hyena are longer than the back legs. The spotted hyena is considerably shorter and appears to stand on end the majority of the time. Hyenas normally found once in the large range across Africa and part of Asia and Europe. Mostly found in the African savannah.

spotted hyena facts

Spotted Hyena are the most abundant large carnivores on the African continent. Hyena usually irritates other large carnivores who actually make a kill that is then stolen by a laughing hyenas pack.

Hyena is exceptionally strong jaws in relation to the body size of the hyena. They usually group together in packs and generally being in the center of their territory.

Spotted Hyena Facts

  • The spotted hyena is a social animal. It lives in large, complex groups known as clans. It can comprise up to 80 individuals.
  • In the animal kingdom, the spotted hyena has one of the most powerful bites or we can say the species is known for its exceptionally powerful bite force.
  • The females are dominant over the males. The social life the clan revolves around a communal den and led by females.

Hyena lifespan

The spotted hyena is a highly successful animal, being the most common large carnivore in Africa. It is primarily a hunter but may also the scavenger. It hunts alone, in small parties of 2-5 individuals in large groups. The average lifespan is 12 years, with a maximum of 25 years. Main characteristics of laughing hyenas are the largest species of hyena, with females being up to 10% larger than males. Spotted hyenas reach sexual maturity at the age of three years.

Spotted Hyena Size

The spotted hyenas can weigh up to 190lbs. laughing hyenas are the largest subspecies of the hyenas. Their front legs are longer than their hind ones. Though hyenas look like large dogs, they are actually more similar to cats like lions and tigers. The females are usually larger than the males.

Spotted hyena diet

Spotted Hyena Body

They have strong teeth and powerful jaws. They have sandy look with black-brown spots on the most of the body. In younger animals, the spots are darkest and can be almost completely absent in very old animals. The body length from head to tail is about 95-150cm and might be 75-80cm. About two –thirds of the tail is composed of bone with the other part being solely hair.

Spotted Hyena Weight

Females weighing around 6.6kg more than males. Females are extremely masculinized females also have the pair of sacs in the genital region which are filled with fibrous tissue. The females spotted hyena don’t have an external vagina. They urinate, mate and deliver young through the urogenital canal that exists through the pseudo-penis. Thus, males and females look extremely similar.

Spotted Hyena Behavior

Territorial behavior   

According to the monitoring of the behavior of an adult female clan initiation and leadership of most cooperative territorial behavior like sex differences which is observed in spotted hyena territoriality. They are consistent with the hypothesis that male and female clan members obtain various benefits to give security to the group territories.

In case of any fight with the same species or interaction with the big animals, they provide ample security to the territories against encroachment by neighboring conspecifics. Resident females spotted hyena never like an intruder. They instantly attack the female intruder in compare to the male.

In comparison to the Brown and Striped Hyena, the Spotted Hyena is a most powerful predator instead of scavenger. As per the researchers laughing hyena’s hunting abilities are similar to a Lion. They are mislabeled as a scavenger ever.

Spotted Hyena Mating

The female hyena socially dominance over males as well as the group. She has her own sexual desires.  If the female laughing hyena is not keen to mate with a male, then he’s just plain out of luck by this particular characteristic of female hyenas as she chooses her partner by herself.

Spotted hyena female behaves in a similar way to the male, with a slightly larger size and still with similar external genitalia. The laughing hyena male has the normal characteristics for a male animal, but females are more aggressive and larger and have a pseudo opening.

Unlike the other mammals, the spotted hyena female does not have an external vaginal opening. These species are determining their sex is rather complicated. In the species, successful mating requires that the male insert his erect penis into the female “pseudopenis”, such that the sex partners remain in a brief “copulatory lock” for some minutes after the male ejaculates.

Spotted Hyena Gestation period

110 days is the average length of time of gestation period. Females usually bear twins although 1to 4 young ones possible. Female spotted hyenas have only two nipples so, litters of more than two have to fight to survive.  And it is very painful for the females laughing hyena to give birth, the scar pink color is discovered and the back of the pseud opening is torn.

Baby Spotted Hyena

Sixty percent of baby laughing hyena die from suffocation. It’s dangerous for the mothers too. Cubs are born with dark fur, some teeth present already in the mouth, their eyes open. They fight over who will be the dominant one. Female cubs are more dominating by birth. Sometimes they kill the weaker sibling.

Spotted hyena diet

Spotted Hyena Diet

Spotted hyenas are scavengers they often eat on the carrion of previously killed animal, but that isn’t the full extent on their diet. They can hunt their own too. They preying on reptiles, birds and even wee bugs. When it comes to big prey, They generally hunt in units of between two and five individuals.

They prefer going after mammals that exceed 40 pounds in weight. Laughing hyenas usually chase lions away from a kill. The hyenas work in a group when hunting such large prey. A spotted hyena may go after smaller prey when hunting alone.

Except for the hair and horns they can digest the whole animal, they eat each and every part of the animals like skin, hooves, bone, and teeth. their powerful jaws are able to crush bones with ease. they also eat mice, rabbits or rats, beef heart, even some vegetables they eat too like cabbage, carrots, zucchini, fish. For a later meal, they buried leftover in a mud hole. so at one time, a hyena can eat quite a bit.

Spotted Hyena habitat

Spotted hyenas are found in all habitat, like Savannah, forest edges, mountains up to 13,000 ft., woodlands, grasslands. Hyenas are widespread and found in most habitats. Laughing Hyenas can run up to 50 kilometers per hour, and can walk 10 kilometers per hour,  they are the good swimmer too.

They able to survive in semi-arid regions too.  Rather than resting in dens, they sleep under bushes or scrubs or shallow pools, in holes during the heat of the day they can sleep anywhere in shade. To hide extra food spotted hyenas use watering holes as places to cool off.  Depending on their needs they can be active both day and night. But they are generally nocturnal.

Hyena vs Human

The spotted hyena is a top carnivore in its ecosystem and has no natural predators. Hyenas are often shot or poisoned by the local farmers or villagers because they are attacked on their livestock. The human being is the only one who hunts and kills a hyena intentionally. Humans kill hyenas for an easy meal and the fact that humans used to believe that laughing hyenas were related to witchcraft and supernatural activity.

The myths surrounding hyenas are that witches ride hyenas. Some folk religion tells people who possess the evil eye and can change themselves into the creatures like the hyena. So, that sometimes human kill spotted hyenas for the same reason and sometimes for the self-defense.

Hyena vs predators

Probably none. Top predators rarely have any natural predators. A crocodile would kill and eat hyena if the opportunity presented itself. Hyenas usually steal lion’s food which lion hunt itself, spotted hyena and lions often fight over the same territories and hunt the same prey so, the lion might kill hyena due to battles over prey.  But most of the time lion quit and leave the hunted animal for the hyenas.

Scavengers like vultures will eat a dead hyena, but no one can hunt hyena intentionally except human. So, hyena has no direct predators.

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