Spotted hyenas are one of the most misunderstood animals in Africa. These fierce creatures are often viewed as cowardly scavengers that prey on the weak, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Spotted hyenas are one of the most complex and fascinating animals that have evolved some interesting strategies to take down large prey and survive in their unique environment. With that being said, here are some fascinating facts about these creatures
1. Spotted Hyenas Appearance.
Spotted hyenas are the largest member of the hyena family. They are sexually dimorphic, meaning that males and females look different. Females are about 10% larger than males and weigh up to 190 pounds. males on the other hand weigh up to 170 pounds. They also have a yellowish-brown coat with black spots as well as a long mane running down their back from their shoulders to their tail. Additionally, spotted hyenas are endowed with a large and rounded head with small, pointed ears. Their muzzle is normally short, broad, and blunt. The females also have one external genital opening which is at the top of their abdomen near their rectum meaning that before they mate, they have to stand on each other’s back so that the male can insert their penis into this single opening.
2. Spotted Hyenas Behavior.
Spotted hyenas are highly social animals, living in large clans of up to 80 individuals. Females are the dominant sex, with a strict hierarchy based on age and size. Adult females are also the only ones within the pack that are allowed to breed. They give birth to litters of two to four cubs with most cubs being conceived blind until they’re about two weeks old. Newborn cubs must stay with their mother for a period of approximately three years with their clan being led by the oldest female, called an alpha female. The other females play the subordinate rank, while males settle for the lowest rank. One exception is when males successfully take over leadership from aging or incapacitated alpha females they tend to take care of their former mother figure by regurgitating food for her, helping nurse her back to health, and grooming her regularly.
3. Spotted Hyenas Diet.
Spotted hyenas’ diet mainly consists of lions and leopards’ leftovers as well as smaller animals such as baboons, birds, turtles, eggs, and baby antelopes. They’re also good hunters that prey for their kills either in packs or alone. While hunting in packs hyenas will send a scout ahead who’ll circle back to the pack when their prey is spotted and give an alarm call for the rest of the pack to come running. Individual hunting on the other hand entails a single hyena following its prey and trails tirelessly. The goal is to chase its prey until it gets tired before devouring it.
4. Spotted Hyena Conservation Status.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the spotted hyenas are listed as ‘least concern’ in terms of their conservation status. These animals are considered stable in regions where they are given adequate protection from threats such as hunting or development pressures. Human settlement into their natural habitats is one of the biggest threats to spotted hyenas, as it has forced them to settle into smaller territories.In some parts of Africa, these wild animals have reportedly been killed by farmers to protect their livestock or crops.
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