Hyena Facts



  • All hyenas hide surplus food for later – sometimes even underwater in the case of the spotted hyena.
  • Hyenas are more closely related to mongooses than to members of the dog family.
  • In South Africa, brown hyenas, or ‘beach wolves, beach-comb for dead crabs, fish and sea mammals.
  • A female brown hyena was once seen to take a springbok carcase from a leopard, and drive the leopard up a tree.
  • Brown and striped hyenas erect their long manes to make them look larger when displaying aggression.
  • After making a successful kill, the spotted (laughing’) hyena emits a bloodcurdling, laugh-like cry.
  • The aardwolf is a small, insect-eating member of the hyena family. One specimen was found to have over 40,000 termites in its stomach.
  • Often portrayed as a skulking scavenger, the spotted hyena is in fact an aggressive hunter, and is also capable of driving lions from their kills at times.
  • The hyena’s powerful jaws can crush large bones, which its digestive system dissolves in a few hours.
  • Hyenas may suckle their young for more than 1 year, compared to 2 months in the dog family.
  • The hyenas’ victim is often brought down by a bite to the leg or back and then ripped to pieces by the pack while it is still alive.