June 2, 2020 | By Gyan | Posted in
The Eerie Cracking laugh of the spotted hyena is one of the characteristic sounds of the open grasslands of Africa. There are three main types of hyena – spotted, striped, and brown. The spotted hyena is the largest; all three have large, broad heads and powerful jaws. Their front legs and shoulders are larger and more powerful than their weaker hindquarters. Although hyenas look rather like dogs, they are in fact more closely related to the cat family.
Spotted hyena : The spotted hyena is the most aggressive and most numerous member of its family. It is usually found in open country, but sometimes also on the forest fringes. Spotted hyenas’ furtive movements and liking for carrion have given them a reputation for cowardice and dependence on the kills of other animals, but they are in fact predators in their own right. They have an important ecological role in keeping herds of hoofed animals moving. By forcing these animals to move to fresh grazing grounds, hyenas help to conserve the habitat.
Bones and marrow form an important part of the spotted hyenas’s diet. Unlike any other carnivores, it will even eat hard tusks and horns. To cope with this diet, the spotted hyenas jaws and teeth are immensely powerful, and capable of crushing the heaviest of bones.
Spotted hyenas live in clans of between 10-100 animals. They scavenge by day and hunt by night Members of the clan work together and are capable of driving lions off their kill, and may even kill an old solitary lion. Females are larger than males and the most dominant female presides over the clan.
Spotted hyenas scavenge the remains of other animals’ kills, but also kill their own prey, frequently taking young gazelles, wildebeest calves, and zebras. They may hunt singly but are more effective in packs. The pack size varies according to the availability of prey in their territory.
Normally, two to three cubs are born in an underground burrow. They can see immediately. Several females often establish a nursery where they and their young live together communally. One female remains in the burrow to guard the cubs while the others go in search of food. The cubs are not fully weaned until they are 18 months old.
Types of hyena : The hyena family consists of four species: the spotted, striped, and brown hyenas, and the aardwolf, which is sometimes placed in a separate family. The spotted and striped hyenas live in Africa and Asia; the brown hyena and the aardwolf are confined to southern Africa.
Brown hyena :
Essentially a desert species, the brown hyena is unaggressive, shy, and so secretive that it is seldom seen. At night it searches for the remains of other animals’ kills. It lives in southern Africa, mainly in Namibia and Botswana.
Striped hyena :
A much smaller animal than its spotted cousin, the striped hyena inhabits an area from India to the Middle East and southwards to Tanzania. It is less predatory and less aggressive than the spotted hyena and tends to be more solitary by nature. It lives in rock defts, caves, or burrows.
Aardwolf Hyena :
A timid animal, the aardwolf spends the day underground, often in another animals abandoned den. It has weak jaws, small, widely spaced teeth, and a long flexible tongue – adaptations to the termites and other insects on which it feeds. To deter predators it emits an evil smell from an anal gland.