Spotted hyenas are some of the animals you may spot during a safari in Kenya. They live in sub-Saharan Africa. They are also known as laughing hyenas. They live in dens, mountains, savannas, grasslands, and coastal areas. They are carnivorous animals. They are perceived as ugly, cowardly, and lazy. Fortunately, the world is changing this perception. People are learning the truth about the spotted hyena. As a result, they have started appreciating these most misunderstood animals. Today, we look at the 5 fascinating facts about the spotted hyena. After reading these facts, you will discover that they are amazing mammals.
- They have strong jaws
This is one of the top 5 fascinating facts about the spotted hyena. Here are some of the hyena teeth facts. They have 32 to 34 teeth. They have conical premolars. These teeth help in crushing and breaking bones. This is one of the unique differences between other carnivores and spotted hyenas. They can easily crush bones. They have short but strong canines. These protrude towards the front of their jaw. Then, they have gigantic carnassial. These are found at the back of the jaw. They use their teeth to crush even massive bones.
Let’s look at more hyena teeth facts. A spotted hyena’s bite is among the strongest among animals. The teeth are powerful enough to crush an entire skeleton. Their bite is strong enough to kill prey. A spotted hyena may appear smaller compared to other cats. But their jaw is stronger than a lion’s. Luckily, hyenas can digest bones as well as teeth. The digestion process only takes about 24 hours.
- Their society is matriarchal
This is one of the amazing facts about hyenas. Spotted hyenas are social and live in a clan. A female spotted hyena dominates the clan. The females are larger than the males. They also outrank males. This is not common in the animal kingdom. For example, male lions dominate their kingdom. So, why do girls overpower boys in the hyena clans? Female spotted hyenas have more testosterone than males. This makes them more aggressive and muscular. Also, as a result, female hyenas have pseudo-penis. This makes it harder to differentiate female and male hyenas.
Here are some more facts about the pseudo-penis. Female hyenas use it to urinate. The unusual genitals can erect. Female hyenas use them to give birth. This makes the birthing process to be more painful. Most cubs suffocate during birth. Mothers are also in danger because of the small birth canal. This explains the many deaths among first-time mothers.
- They are great mothers
One of the 5 fascinating facts about the spotted hyena is their motherly love. It is common to see cats nursing kittens. You may also have seen or watched gorillas nestling their babies. But it is harder to imagine a spotted hyena as a great mother. Surprisingly, they are. Spotted hyenas are among the best mothers. First, they give birth to babies who are more developed compared to other animals. At birth, their babies or cubs have open eyes, intact teeth, and ready muscles. This is one of the fun facts about spotted hyenas. But the females take care of the cubs until they are old enough. The cubs suckle for about a year and a half. This is a long period compared to other animals. When the mother goes hunting, they are left in the den. An adult hyena babysits them. They start hunting at the age of 5 months. At about 1 year, they start hunting with their mothers.
- They are intelligent
One of the amazing facts about hyenas is that they are intelligent. People tend to see them as foolish. This may be because of their “laugh”. But studies show that they have a higher level of intelligence. In some studies, spotted hyenas have outperformed primates such as chimps. They live in larger social groups. Maintaining these groups requires intelligence. They manage to raise their cubs in a hostile environment. They are also able to identify their clanmates. This intelligence is one of the 5 fascinating facts about the spotted hyena.
- They have a large heart
This is one of the fun facts about spotted hyenas. Their heart is larger compared to same-size mammals. The heart makes up about 1% of the hyena’s body weight. This is in contrast to other animals. For example, a lion’s heart makes up about 0.46% of the body weight. The larger heart gives spotted hyenas enough stamina to hunt. For example, they can pursue prey for about 5 km. They can hunt alone. In this case, they prey on animals such as birds, fish, and hares. They can hunt in groups. Here, they target larger animals such as wildebeests, impalas, gazelles, and zebras.
Spotted hyenas are largely misunderstood. Hopefully, after reading the 5 fascinating facts about the spotted hyena, you have a better perception. You can see these incredible animals in Sub-Saharan Africa. You can see them in Masai Mara Kenya and other parks and reserves. They are common in reserves where they can find many carcasses. You will love the sounds and sightings of these wild animals. Travelers report memorable experiences from safari adventures. African wildlife is amazing. There is so much to see and experience. Feel free to reach out for more.