Hyena | Exploring the World of Wildlife: facts about the Hyena

Cunning and hardy, hyenas rarely risk attacking their prey if there is a danger that the prey will fight back in earnest. But if hyenas gather in a large pack, which they usually do, they become a formidable force even for stronger animals and can tear apart their prey in a matter of seconds.

Fact number one.

There are only four species in the world, and they are all similar in behaviour and appearance. Spotted hyenas, the largest of all — adults often reach a weight of fifty to eighty kilograms. And females of all species are larger and more aggressive than males, as their testosterone levels are higher. The exception is striped hyaenas, which live singly. Normally, hyaenas are always in packs dominated by the female.

Fact number two.

Outwardly, hyenas look like dogs, but in fact they have nothing in common with them. Zoologists claim that they belong to the feline family, so domestic cats are their natural relatives. Their behaviour is similar to that of felines: they hunt in packs, for example, and they lash out at their prey before attacking it. Although hyenas are thought to be scavengers, two-thirds of their food comes from hunting. Or by taking prey from other predators. A pack of hyenas, when hungry and aggressive, can even drive away a leopard.

Fact number three.

Eurasia was home to cave hyenas, very similar to their modern counterparts. These extinct monsters weighed between a hundred and a hundred and ten kilograms and were probably the largest scavenger mammals ever to inhabit the Earth. The last of them disappeared from the face of the planet about five hundred thousand years ago.

Fact number four.

These animals are not known for their cleanliness. They don’t even try to camouflage their presence, and they’re not at all embarrassed by the stench. Hyenas’ lairs are littered with mud and debris, so they can be smelled from a hundred yards away, and they all smell the same, which is to say, very unpleasant.

Fact number five.

The hyena’s digestive system can digest any food. More often than not, these animals eat their prey right down to the bone, and their stomachs can even digest bones. This is why these scavengers are so ecologically important — they clean up the area by eating whatever they can swallow.

Fact number six.

There is always a strict hierarchy in a pack. The position of the tail, up or down, indicates the social status of a particular animal. The howls uttered by hyenas have also been well studied, and the sequence of sounds in them, as well as their tonality, also directly indicate the position occupied in the pack. Sometimes the female is challenged by her younger rivals, in which case a fight breaks out, which usually ends in the death of one of them.

Fact number seven.

Fighting between pups begins in infancy, and pups can fight each other at the slightest provocation. This is not a game, but a fight to the death. The parents do not separate the fighting. But only females fight, and only among themselves, they do not show aggression towards males.

Fact number eight.

Hyenas do make a sound, very similar to a taunting laugh. But not all, only the spotted ones, the biggest and most dangerous of all. In fact, that’s how they howl, and their howls sound quite ominous.

Fact number nine.

In spotted hyenas, the males rank lower in the pack than all females and even the cubs without exception. The daughters of the female leader, when they grow up, sit close to her, while the older males usually go off to find another pack.

Fact number ten.

Males and females mate outside the clan. They meet in neutral territory, where the male courts the female for a few days. Usually the female gives birth to two to four cubs in one litter, which are born with their eyes already open. The young begin to eat meat after about five months, but females continue to feed them with milk for up to a year, which is a very long time for a raptor. At around two years of age, the cubs become adults and leave their mother.

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