+27 (0) 84 409 6624 eprecep@elephantcorp.co.za

Unique as they come, hyenas are classified into their own family, known as the Hyaenidae. Populating the vast lands of Africa and Asia, these creatures are well-known as dog-like carnivores and are primarily nocturnal. However, they are known to leave their lairs in the early-morning hours too. Read further below to find out more fascinating and fun facts on hyenas. 

Hyenas reside in the grasslands, savannas, sub-deserts, mountains and forests of Asia and Africa. Known as one of the smallest in the Mammalia class, there are four classified types of hyena. These are the striped hyena, the “laughing” spotted hyena, the brown hyena, and the aardwolf (the smallest of its kind). Hyenas use a number of phonetic sounds to communicate with one another. Spotted hyenas are renowned for “laughing” as a way of imparting their vexation or excitement during the hunting process. 

Hyenas: Felines or Canines? 

While closer to felines and viverrids in their evolutionary history, hyenas are more similar to canines in terms of behaviour and morphology. Here are the similarities listed below:

  • Both capture their prey with their teeth instead of claws
  • Hyenas and other canines ingest their food very quickly, while potentially even storing it.
  • Their calloused feet have rather sizeable unsharpened, non-retractable claws which are modified for running and darting around sharp bends.  

Spotted Hyena Societies are Matriarchal 

The spotted hyena species are matriarchal due to females being more muscular and aggressive than their male counterparts. With males having a lower status in the pack, they are forced to leave their families when reaching sexual maturity. When entering a new family, they often fight to the death, with the dominant female determining their status in the pack. Female hyenas are also more muscular and aggressive in comparison to their male contenders, due to having three times more testosterone in their bodies.

More Facts on Hyenas: 

  • They have an average life span of 12 years, but can live up to 25 years.
  • Spotted hyenas kill up to 95% of the animals they consume, while brown hyenas and striped hyenas are mostly scavengers by nature.
  • Aardwolves (the smallest of hyenas) are insectivores, mostly consuming termites.
  • Female hyenas have enlarged clitorises which are used to mate and give birth.
  • A hyena’s heart is two times larger than that of similar-sized mammals.
  • These animals mature at the young age of 3 years old, with females reaching maturity at a later stage than males.
  • They give birth to an average of 2 cubs per litter, with up to 3 being reported on some occasions. 

Hyenas are truly remarkable animals, and are a lot less cowardly than they are made out to be. Now that you’re all clued up on some facts on hyenas, are you eager to view these fascinating mammals in their natural habitat? Yingwe Lodge is within close proximity to the Kruger National Park, where you get to observe the hyena up close, and then return to your luxury accommodation afterwards. 

Contact Yingwe Lodge to book your self-catering stay by calling 084 409 6624 or emailing eprecep@elephantcorp.co.za