Spotted Hyena Fact Sheet

Common Name:

Spotted Hyena

Scientific Name:

Crocuta crocuta

Wild Status:

Least Concern


Savannas, woodlands, forests


Various African countries



Life Span:

20+ years



Cool Facts:

  • Fiercer hunters than other types of hyenas, who mostly scavange.
  • Sometimes considered kleptoparasites, meaning animals that steal other predator's killed prey.
  • Sexually dimorphic with the females being larger than the males and sometimes more dominant.
  • Mothers raise their cubs alone but live together in large groups with other mothers and their cubs.
  • Cubs are able to run within two weeks of being born.
  • Hyenas live in complicated social hierarchies with the females being most dominant. The most dominant mother's cubs are treated less aggressively.
  • Are known for their vocalizations which sometimes sound like laughs.


What may at first seem like a large dog is actually a distant relative of cats like the cheetah. They have been recorded reaching speeds of over 35mph, which aids them in their team hunting efforts. They can also hunt alone but for large prey such as zebras, groups of 10 or more hyenas are required, depending on the size of the zebra group. Hunting is possible due to their stamina, eyesight, hearing, and sense of smell. They can not only track prey with their superior vision, but can also hear or smell other animals taking down prey nearby and try to take the food for themselves. Due to their portrayal in movies, they are thought of as unintelligent and goofy. In reality, they are very smart, powerful, and work well in large numbers.

Taxonomic Breakdown:

Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Mammalia Order: Carnivora Suborder: Feliformia Family: Hyaenidae Genus: Crocuta Species: C. crocuta

Conservation & Helping:

This species of hyena is not considered endangered or threatened. They are abundant and often hunted as pests, but their numbers are not considered low enough for concern yet. They are faring much better than competitors such as the spotted African dogs.

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