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Common Name: Spotted Hyena

Scientific Name: Crocuta crocuta


Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Family: Hyaenidae

Genus: Crocuta

Species: C. crocuta


Crocuta crocuta, also known as the Spotted or Laughing Hyena, is famous for its psychotic cackle. The Spotted hyena is also famous for its villainous role in Disney’s ‘The Lion King’. The Spotted Hyenas diet is mainly other animals, though it has been known to eat certain kinds of African plants. It is a scavenger and hunter; it often finishes scraps of a meal left behind from lions, though it does hunt. They hunt wildebeests, gazelles, zebras, buffalos, fish, tortoises, rhinoceros, hippo and elephant calves, pangolins, jackals, pythons, weak, dying, or already dead lions, topi, livestock, dogs, and humans. They have also been reported to have eaten fences and aluminum pots and pans. Due to large quantities of acid in their stomachs, they can digest every part of their prey; horns, hooves, bone, skin, hair, and, yes, aluminum.


Hyenas often follow African wild dogs, leopards, and cheetahs to steal their kill. Hyenas usually pursue their prey for approx. 5km. they use sight more than smell or hearing when locating and tracking prey. Hyenas usually hunt in packs, but they can hunt alone. When hunting their most usual prey; wildebeest and zebra; they hunt differently. When going after wildebeest, they chase the herd until they slow. Sometimes the herd head for water, but they move slower in the water and are usually caught. When hunting zebras, a group of 10-25 hyenas run in a crescent formation towards the tight, circular formation of the zebra herd. Hyenas then fend off the stallion and pick off the zebras on the outside. They usually hunt at night.


Spotted hyenas are usually three feet at the shoulder and are about 4.5 feet lengthwise. They weigh approximately 120-189 pounds. Females are larger than males. A typical hyena can live 14-29 years, depending on its location. They have a cream to light brown base coat and dark spots that fade with age and a black muzzle. Pups are born black. They have long, slanted necks with a bristly mane. They are heavily muscled and have a strong heart. An average adult hyena can have over 1000 pounds of force when they bite down and can easily crush bones.


Their jaws have more pounds of force than a brown bear. Spotted hyenas roam most of Africa south of the Sahara Desert, with the exception of rainforest and heavily wooded areas. With the rise of the African population, their lands have been cut down, though they are still thriving and show no signs of changing that. They are not afraid of humans and often come in contact with them. Some villages actually leave their dead for the hyenas to eat.


Hyenas have been known to demolish livestock, get into food stores, and even take human lives. In some places, they are hunted as pests. Spotted hyenas are the largest species of hyena, the second and third most populated are the brown and stripes hyenas. Although you may think that hyenas and dogs are related, they are actually closer to cats.


Author: Kennedy J.

Published: 04/2009


Sources: Wikipedia. (search: spotted hyena) Photo Credit: Rhett A. Butler,






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