What do you know about a hyena? Or what comes to your mind when you read this name?
In African culture, hyenas are mistaken to be greedy and coward. This is because of how they tend to consume everything from bones, feathers, meat, etc. Their walking posture is mistaken for being sneaky hence seen as a coward.
Their physical features especially the female hyenas. Make them seen as feminist. The female hyenas are bigger compared to the male ones. They also have extremely enlarged long clitorises that look almost perfectly like penises, complete with what appear to be testicles.
In Kenya, this name has been used a very funny manner. Hyena is known as Fisi in Swahili. And Kenyans have coined the term Team Mafisi. It is used to describe a group of men who would chase literally after every kind of girl either on the street or off the street.
Maybe you too have your version of hyenas. I love hyenas and they are amazing animals to pay attention too. They are full of surprises and can be amazing pets to adopt while young. And good to release them into the wild later. They rarely forget you and make great friends.
Hyenas belong to the family Hyaenidae. They are carnivorous. Mostly found in the African ecosystems. They are also found in other parts of the world such as the Middle East, Asia, and the Indian subcontinent.
There are several species. Namely:
- Spotted hyenas
- Striped hyenas
- Brown Hyenas
Spotted hyenas are also referred to as the laughing hyenas. They are native to sub-Saharan Africa and of least concern. While the striped and brown hyenas are near-threaten species.
Brown hyenas are the rarest species of hyenas. What makes them distinct from the rest, is their long shaggy coat and pointed ears. They have a dark brown coat and a short tail. They are social animals.
Brown and striped hyenas are both scavengers. Brown hyenas are aggressive scavengers. They are relatively smaller in size than the spotted hyenas. Striped hyenas are the smallest in size compared to the other species. They have a life span of 12 years in captivity.
Both brown and striped hyenas have strips covering their bodies. Spotted hyenas are the largest, followed by the brown hyenas than the striped hyenas.
Comparison between spotted hyenas and striped hyenas
|Spotted Hyenas||Striped Hyenas|
|They mainly hunt for their food and rarely scavenge.||They mainly scavenge for food and are omnivorous.|
|Their bodies contain spots almost similar to the ones for leopards.||They have vertical stripes between their ribs and hips, and black vertical stripes in their legs.|
|They hunt in groups.||They hunt alone or in pairs.|
|They are very vocal. (hence the name laughing hyenas)||They are less vocal.|
|They have a life span of between 15 to 25 years in captivity.||They have a life span on 24 years in captivity|
|They are social.||They are solitary.|
|Female spotted hyenas are much bigger than their male counterparts.||There’s a small difference in body size between the female and males.|
|The females are more aggressive and dominant. They rule their social groups.||They are mostly alone hence no groups.|
|They are big and powerful.||They are smaller compared to the spotted hyenas but bigger than the brown hyenas.|
Important facts to know
- They are well-skilled hunters.
- They are clever.
- They can crush the bones of their prey. This is thanks to their powerful teeth.
- They have a gestation period of 110 days. And have an average of 2 cubs.
- They have a massive heart that aids them to run for miles to maintain the same speed.
- Male hyenas are the ones who babysit the young ones.
- They are nocturnal but can be sighted once in a while during the day.
- They are not necessarily cowards when threatened. Spotted hyenas will fight back while brown and striped hyenas may choose to run away.
- Hyena’s laugh can be used to identify their social status. They do use it to communicate things such as distress.
- They have a large brain compared to their body size. And believed to be more intelligent than primates such as the chimpanzees.
- They kill the lion’s cub to eliminate food competition.
- The females rule.
- They don’t make good pets once fully grown. Hence should be released into the wild.