Animal of the Week Spotted Hyena

The SpottieOttieDopalicious Hyena

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To start off the summer month of June, we’ve got a real treat for our Animal of the week. This time we’ve got the wonderful Spotted Hyena, a hunting & scavenging mammal found in Africa. In fact, they are the most common found large carnivore in Africa, in part due to their opportunistic feeding habits. These animals are considered least concern on the endangered species list, as they have a widespread habitat and strong population numbers. Spotted Hyenas are well known for their vocalisations that often sound like a laugh. However, Hyenas actually communicate with a variety of different sounds and pitches to send different messages to each other.

Is a Hyena a dog or a cat?

Many of the physical traits of a Hyena lead people to think they are in the dog or cat family. Well truth is, these creatures belong to neither group! There is a special group called Hyaenidae specifically for Hyenas. There are four members of this animal family – the spotted hyena, striped hyena, brown hyena, and aardwolf. And no Defenders, that last one actually is a hyena, not a wolf!

Are Hyenas smart?

Animals that have complex social groups are usually considered intelligent, and this is no different for the spotted hyena. Studies have shown that the hyena family has a level of intelligence that you can compare with primates! That’s our animal group! Hyena communication is very detailed so all members of the pack can unite. For instance, hyenas will only engage with intruders if they have more members than the enemy. One study gave hyenas a steel box to try and open, and they used many different techniques to try and solve this problem.

How dangerous are Hyenas?

Well first off, we’re specifically talking about the tough guys here. Spotted Hyenas are more dangerous than striped hyenas, as the spotted hyenas are larger and more aggressive. Being scavengers, hyenas will definitely consume a human carcass that another animal might have created. However, hyenas prefer not to engage with humans and would be less dangerous than a lion you could find in a similar territory. They definitely have the strength to attack humans when they are lacking food. As with any wild animal, especially big carnivores, it’s best to leave these animals to nature and take precautions when in their habitat.

Can Hyenas kill a lion?

The short answer is, a lion can definitely take out a hyena. In general, even with a pack of hyenas, adult male lions will dominate a kill. Most interactions between hyenas and lions will come when fighting over the meat and bones of a kill. While the lions usually win these contests, hyenas can distract or harass the lions to get some food, although they often wait until the lions leave. These interactions are not extremely common as adult lions are much larger than an adult hyena, but it’s not completely out of the question for a group of hyenas to take out an older sickly lion.

 

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