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Spotted Hyaena

Crocuta crocuta

Description - Other Names - Distribution - Taxonomy

Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta) Silhouette

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Spotted Hyena © C Du Plessis

The Hyaena's appearance is not particularly appealing. It has large rounded ears and a sloping back angling down from high shoulders to somewhat lower buttocks. Their thickset body is covered in a shaggy yellow-brown coat, blotched with black and dark brown spots.

Spotted Hyena © C Du PlessisTheir large heads have well developed jaw muscles. With these jaws it can snap and crush bones with great ease. Even tins, tyres and shoes have been found destroyed by Hyaenas.

They tend to live in groups of up to ten and scavenge on the leftover carcases killed by lions and other carnivores. They occasionally hunt and kill their own prey, particularly sickly or recently born and infant animals.
Hyaenas are fairly common in protected reserves and parks, but are seldom seen, as they spend their days resting in tunneled burrows. At night they emerge to look for food and water, often going hungry or having to cover great distances before finding something to eat.

Their melancholy and eerie nocturnal howls are commonly heard and is one of the most characteristic of African sounds.

After a gestation period of around 3-4 months, a pregnant female will give birth to 1-2 cubs.

Other Names


Distribution map of the Spotted Hyena
Distribution map
of the
Spotted Hyaena


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