Spotted Hyena The Queen Of Savannah

English name: Spotted Hyena

Scientific Name: Crocuta crocuta

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Family: Hyaenidae

Link to Red List page: Red List Page of Spotted Hyena

Least Concern

Where to find Spotted Hyena

It is present throughout sub-Saharan Africa with different densities depending on the area; it is very present in the Serengeti Masai Mara ecosystem and in the Ngorongoro crater in Tanzania and is considered the most numerous predator in the Serengeti.

Today there are only two populations on the African continent in two distinct and distant areas: one in the north-eastern part and the other in southern Africa.

We can find it in the northern and eastern part of Africa, the Middle East, India and Asia in the Caucasus and southern Siberia and it lives mainly in wooded and mountainous areas but also in the driest areas and savannahs.

We can also find it in the southern tip of Africa and the largest populations are south of the Kalahari and in the coastal areas of southwest Africa.


The spotted hyena inhabits semi-deserts, savannas, open scrubs and montane forests at an altitude of 4,000 meters.


Basically, the female spotted hyena is considerably larger than the male Adults measure 95-165.8cm (37-65in) in body length and have a shoulder height of 70-91.5cm (28-36in).

Adult male spotted hyenas in the Serengeti weigh 40.5-55.0 kg (89-121 lbs) while females weigh 44.5-63.9 kg (98-141 lbs).

Spotted hyenas in Zambia tend to be heavier, with males weighing an average of 67.6 kg (149 lbs) and females 69.2 kg (153 lbs) spotted hyena a powerful bite that can exert a pressure of 80 kgf / cm2 (1140 lbf / inĀ²), which is 40% more force than a leopard can generate.

The jaws of the spotted hyena surpass those of the brown bear in the ability to crush bones, and free-standing hyenas have been observed chewing on the long bones of giraffes measuring 7 cm in diameter.

Hyenas in savannah
Hyenas in savannah

Lifestyle of Spotted Hyena:

Females only take care of their own puppies and males do not take care of parental care.

They live in large and stable groups that can include up to 100 individuals and are able to distinguish every single member of the group, discriminating against maternal and paternal relatives.

Hyenas have a matriarchal society: females rule.

Indeed, it commands a female over the whole group.

They live in territorial herds called “clans”, characterized by a rigid hierarchy of dominance.

Females dominate males, with even lower-ranking females dominating higher-ranking males.

Females normally remain in their birth clan, so that a large clan may contain numerous maternal lines, while males usually leave the clan at the age of two.

Clan society is based on the “fission-fusion” principle, meaning clan members are not always united, instead wandering and hunting alone or in small groups, although they join forces to defend territory, food, and lair. It is a very successful animal, being the most common large-sized carnivore in Africa.

Its success stems from both its adaptability and its opportunism; it is mainly a hunter, but it also feeds on carrion, having the ability to digest skin, bones and other animal products. In functional terms, the spotted hyena is the carnivore that gets the most nourishment possible from a carcass.

It shows great flexibility in its hunting and feeding behaviors in comparison to the other African carnivores; hunts both alone and in groups.

While hunting, spotted hyenas infiltrate herds in order to select an individual to attack.

When the prey is then selected, the hyenas chase it for long distances, often for kilometers and at a speed of 60 km / h.

One of the most interesting characteristics of the hyena is the fact that the female’s genitals closely resemble those of the male, since this does not have a vaginal opening: the labia are fused together forming a pseudo-scrotum while the clitoris has almost the same shape of a penis, capable of erection.

The pseudo-penis – crossed by a urogenital canal with which the female urinates, mates and gives birth – is due to the presence of high levels of androgens before and after birth.

In the Ecology Letter a study was published, the result of 20 years of research in the Masai Mara, which lists all the aspects that make this species unique and fundamental for the balance of the ecosystem.

Hyena clan looking for prey
Hyena clan looking for prey

Major risk for Spotted Hyena:

Both spotted hyenas and lions feed on the same prey, with a food overlap of about 60-68%, thus putting them in direct competition.

Lions typically ignore hyenas except when they are eating or being provoked, although in certain places, such as the Ngorongoro Crater, lions do not hesitate to follow the hyenas to steal their prey.

In some cases, hyenas can be bold enough to eat alongside lions or even try to steer them away from a carcass.

Hyenas usually outperform lions in carcass disputes if they outnumber them in a 4: 1 ratio and no adult male lions are present.

However, lions can react aggressively towards hyenas even when there is no food at stake, and predation by lions against hyenas is a major source of mortality for the species.

The spotted hyena is considered a species of minimal risk, they usually hunt at night and if they approach animals raised by humans it is because they are not guarded.

So man does not feel very threatened by its presence, however, there is the systematic anthropization of the territories that limits its range and for this reason there has been a reduction in the number of specimens and an increase in the risk of extinction.

Walt Disney drew her and described her to us as a stupid and evil animal due to her diet also made up of carcasses and her vocalization that reminds us of a shrill and mocking laugh.

But the hyena is one of the most fascinating animals of the African savannah!

Unfortunately, the species has a negative reputation, both in Western culture and in African folklore.

From the one seen as a cowardly and evil animal, from the others considered a greedy, greedy and not very intelligent creature, but at the same time dangerous.

The branch of the IUCN dedicated to the protection of hyenas identifies these prejudices as dangerous for the survival of the species itself.

Here an example an example of how dangerous a clan of hyenas can be even for the mighty lion.

In This BBC Video a very numerous clan of hyenas attacks a lion, the lion is very powerful but the hyenas have the number on their side.

Only the arrival of his youngest friend will resolve the situation in favor of the lion.

But can anyone say why the lion always sits during the attacks?

Write a comment if you know

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