When you think of hyenas, what springs to mind? Scavenging? Cackling cries? Well, it turns out there’s so much more to these incredible creatures! Find out why with our fab spotted hyena facts...
Scientific name: Crocuta crocuta
IUCN status: Least Concern
Lifespan (in wild): Around 25 years
Body size: Up to 2m
Top speed: 65km/h
Habitat: Grassland and savanna
1) Of our planet’s three different species of hyena (the spotted, brown and striped hyena), the spotted hyena is the largest and most common.
2) These amazing animals inhabit savannahs, grasslands, woodlands and forest edges across sub-Saharan Africa.
3) The spotted hyena’s body can grow to almost 2m long, plus a dark, bushy tail measuring 25-30cm long. Females are heavier than males, and can weigh up to 82kg.
4) They have a sandy, ginger-coloured coat with black markings on their body and legs. They sport a cool, short mane on their neck and shoulders, too!
5) Famed scavengers, these cool carnivores have a reputation for eating the leftovers of other predators. But don’t be fooled, they’re super-skilled predators themselves! In fact, they hunt and kill most of their food.
6) Spotted hyenas often hunt in groups and can take down big animals such as wildebeest, antelope, zebras and young hippos. Smaller snacks on their menu include birds, fish, snakes, lizards and insects, too.
7) These guys like to make the most of their meals. Equipped with a super-strong jaw and teeth, they can chomp through every part of their victim, except the horns. Yep, that includes the bones!
8) Spotted hyenas are social mammals and live in structured groups, called clans, of up to 80 individuals. There’s a strict hierarchy, where females rank higher than males, and the group is led by one powerful alpha female.
9) A Female hyena gives birth to one or two cubs a year, which she nurses in a den. As the youngsters grow up, males will often leave to join a different clan, whereas females will remain in the same clan for life.
10) Spotted hyenas are also known as laughing hyenas. Why? Because these highly intelligent creatures communicate with yells, whoops and cackles - some of which can be heard almost 5km away!