Hyenas live throughout Africa, the Middle East and India. Although hyenas are known as scavengers, their species is one of the most skillful and accomplished carnivores.
Spotted hyenas are the largest and most common in Africa. Their habitat is very diverse – deserts, shrubs, forests throughout sub-Saharan Africa, with the exception of the extreme south and the Congo basin. Two more species of hyenas live in the same territory. The fur of the spotted hyena is long and hard, khaki or light brown with dark, uneven spots. The tips of the paws, tail and muzzle are dark brown or even black, and there is a short, stiff mane on the neck and shoulders.
Brown hyenas occupy the smallest area, but seem to be able to survive in almost any habitat. They are found in the desert, in areas overgrown with grass and shrubs, in forests and on the coast of South Africa. Their dark brown fur is much longer and shagier than that of the spotted hyena. Especially thick on the shoulders and back. Therefore, the hyena looks larger than it actually is.
Striped hyenas are the smallest of the three species and live north of their relatives. They prefer open areas in the east and north of Africa, the Middle East, Arabia, India and the southwest of the former Soviet Union. Striped hyenas live near the water. They have gray or light brown fur, duck and shaggy, with transverse dark brown stripes, and have a stiff mane up to 8 inches (20 cm) in length on the back.
All hyenas have the front part of the body higher than the back part. Spotted hyenas have rounded ears, while brown and striped hyenas have pointed ears.
Description and features
The spotted hyena, also known as the laughing hyena, is the largest extant member of the Hyaenidae. Adults measure 95–165.8 cm (37–65 in) in body length, and have a shoulder height of 70–91.5 cm (28–36 in). Adult male spotted hyenas in the Serengeti weigh 40.5–55.0 kg (89–121 lb), while females weigh 44.5–63.9 kg (98–141 lb). Spotted hyenas in Zambia tend to be heavier, with males weighing on average 67.6 kg (149 lb), and females 69.2 kg (153 lb).Exceptionally large weights of 81.7 kg (180 lb) and 90 kg (198 lb) are known. It has been estimated that adult members of the now extinct Eurasian populations weighed 102 kg (225 lb).
Sometimes hyenas give out short barks similar to laughter. And it seems even more creepy. Hellish laughter, people say when they hear a hyena laugh. There is an expression “laughs like a hyena.” Usually this is said about a person who laughs evilly at the interlocutor. And nothing good can be expected from him.
Lifestyle and habitat
Hyenas live in open, grassy desert areas called the savanna belt. They keep close to the edges of small woods, next to shrubs and single trees. The year in such places is divided into 2 seasons – summer and autumn. The climate here is either very dry or very rainy. There is no middle ground.
Although hyenas are often seen during the day, they are more active at dusk and at night, and prefer to rest in or near their den during the day. The hyena’s lair is equipped either by expanding the burrows of other animals, or by finding a secluded place among the rocks or in the forest. Hyenas are very attached to their territory, vigilantly guarding the territory around the den and the territory for hunting. The size of this area can vary greatly depending on the amount and availability of food. The boundaries of the hyena’s domain are marked by secretions from the anal glands and scent glands between the toes, as well as urine and feces. The anal scent glands are most developed in the brown hyena.
Spotted hyenas are perhaps the most social of all hyenas. They live in large groups, or clans, in which there can be up to 80 individuals. Most often, a clan consists of 15 animals. The female hyena is larger than the male and occupies a dominant position, which is rarely found among predators.
Hyenas are night hunters. They hunt at night and rest during the day. These animals are hardy, despite the external awkwardness. They develop high speed when running away from the enemy or hunting. The hyena’s speed can reach 40 mph (65-70 km / h).
So why are these laughing animals so amazing? To begin with, the hyena’s body has fantastic resistance to microorganisms. An example is the anthrax epidemic in Luangwa in 1897, when more than four thousand hippos died from the disease. And their corpses, which contributed to the spread of the disease, were eaten by hyenas. And not only without harm to themselves: the laughing orderlies also managed to significantly increase their numbers by eating contaminated meat.
What do hyenas eat?
The diet of the spotted hyena depends on its habitat and time of year. The hyena’s menu includes rhinos, lions, leopards, elephants, buffaloes, and all types of antelopes found in their habitat, as well as insects, reptiles and some grasses. They eat any carrion that gets in their way, and sometimes rummage in garbage dumps near a human dwelling. There are always many applicants for the killed victim, so the animals tear off the largest piece of the corpse and run away with it so that someone does not take it away.
Reproduction and lifespan of hyenas
Hyenas breed at any time of the year, but the largest number of babies are born between August and January. Pregnancy lasts 110 days. Then 1 to 3 cubs are born. Their main difference from dog puppies and kittens is that they are born immediately sighted.
All cubs remain in the burrow under the supervision of one or two females. They approach the surface of the earth so that their mother can feed them with milk, but for safety reasons they do not leave the burrow until they are about 8 months old. At this age, they go hunting or in search of food with their mother. Hyenas never bring prey into their burrows so that predators cannot locate the hideout from the strong smell of carrion. Spots appear at 4 months. Hyenas live on average about 12 years.
Hyena as a pet
If a person decides to have such an exotic animal as a hyena at home, then it is worth thinking about aviaries. It is best to opt for a baby rather than an adult. Since the cubs are more amenable to training and have not yet had time to get used to the wild habitat. As mentioned earlier, hyenas easily make contact with humans, but only if they have won trust. In order for a predator to recognize a friend in a person, it is not necessary to constantly keep her in an aviary. Yet this is a wild animal and he needs freedom. Hyenas should be fed dry food. Meat should be given very rarely and in small portions. Domestic hyenas, after eating meat, instinctively become aggressive. As often as possible, your pet should include vegetables and fruits in its diet. They fill the body with vitamins and minerals, make the coat thicker.
Such a pet must be treated affectionately and with love, and then he will reciprocate.