Striped Hyena

Scientific Name: Hyaena hyaena

Habitat: Striped hyenas reside in the semideserts, rocky scrublands, and savannas of northern Africa, the Middle East, and India. 

Diet: Striped hyenas are scavengers meaning that they primarily eat carrion (or the decaying flesh of dead animals).

Size: 2 to 2.6 feet high / 2.8 to 4.3 feet long

Weight: 49-120 pounds

Lifespan: 12 years in the wild. Up to 23 years in human care.

Conservation Status:

NEAR THREATENED

Our Striped Hyenas:

Kani (Male) – Born May 15, 2012

Imara (Female) – Born Februaey 22, 2013

About Striped Hyenas:

Striped hyenas occur in grasslands, open woodlands, and bushy regions, usually in rugged terrain. While the striped hyena has no natural predators, it does often come into conflict with humans. They have been known to kill humans, especially children, and they are often poisoned and trapped for preying on livestock or raiding farms. Some of their body parts are also believed to have medicinal value. Striped hyenas have also become endangered through habitat loss.

Did You Know?!

  • A young striped hyena is called a ‘cub, pup, or whelp.’ A striped hyena group is called a ‘clan or cackle.’
  • A striped hyena’s massive jaws help them crush and swallow bones, teeth, horns, and hooves—all body parts that other predators leave uneaten. Their jaw pressure is approximately 800lbs per square inch. The hyena’s digestive system has adapted to maximize the nutritional value of animal remains. It contains highly acidic fluids, in which organic matter of bone is usually digested completely and indigestible items like small bone fragments, horns, hooves, and hair are regurgitated. 
  • The striped hyena’s diet varies by season. True to its scavenger nature, the hyena eats mammalian carrion whenever possible. 
  • Although they are mostly scavengers, hyenas are also skilled hunters able to take down relatively large prey. Some striped hyenas even prey on sheep, goats, donkeys, and horses. They are also known to eat crops such as dates, melons, cucumbers, and peaches (a favorite). 
  • Once thought to be solitary, recent studies have shown that in some areas striped hyenas live in small groups of one female and several males. 
  • Primarily nocturnal or crepuscular, they rest out of sight during the day in a natural cave or a burrow dug into the hillside. Hyenas have even been known to take over another animal’s den.
  • Unlike their noisy cousins, the spotted hyenas, striped hyenas do not make that famous laugh-like sound and are usually silent. Their loudest call is a rarely heard, cackling howl. Instead they generally rely more on body language as a means of communication. For example, when they feel threatened they may attempt to make themselves look much larger by raising the hair/mane along their back. It’s generally their last effort to “pretend” to be brave and, hopefully, keep what it sees as scary predators farther away.
  • Striped hyenas are not members of the dog or cat families. Although, of the two, they are more closely related to the cat family. Instead, they are so unique that they have a family all their own, Hyaenidae. There are four members of the Hyaenidae family: the striped hyena, the spotted hyena, the brown hyena, and the aardwolf.
  • The front legs of a striped hyena are much longer than the hind legs. This gives hyenas their distinctive walk, making them seem like they’re always limping uphill.
  • Striped hyenas seem to be immune to certain diseases, such as rabies and anthrax. By studying their immune system, we might find cures for humans.