spotted hyena

Crocuta crocuta

Common name

spotted hyena


The hyena occupies a wide variety of habitats; arid and open regions that include semi-desert areas, savannahs, acacia forests, swampy areas and mountainous areas up to 4000 meters in altitude. Although they need water to drink, they are capable of living in areas with little availability.


Subfamily: Hyaeninae






117 days.

Number of offspring

1-4, the average being 2.




Different species of antelope, zebra, buffalo, wildebeest, fox, young lions and sometimes carrion.


12 years.

Biology and behavior

With crepuscular habits, spotted hyenas spend the central hours of the day resting and increase their activity as the sun goes down. They form groups called clans that are always led by a female who is called the alpha female. These clans have a curious social structure where females always dominate over males. They have priority when it comes to eating or choosing the best places to rest. It seems that the social rank of female leader is inherited by her daughters.

Distinguishing males and females with the naked eye is a complicated task since their reproductive system looks the same. Females have a clitoris of the same length as the penis and sacs of fibrous tissue that occupy the same place as the testicles in males. The development of this strange genital apparatus in females seems to be determined by the high concentration of male hormones (testosterone), which in the case of the alpha female can be even higher than in males. This process is known as masculinization and seems to imply an increase in the survival of the species, since the care that the puppies receive from their mothers is greater as they are dominant over the males.

Despite their reputation as scavengers, hyenas feed mainly on live prey. They can organize themselves in groups to hunt and pursue their prey at more than 60 km/h for long distances. Lions are the main competitors of hyenas since they feed on the same prey and sometimes steal each other's prey.


The jaws of hyenas are extremely powerful, they are capable of crushing bones, hooves or even the horns of their prey. In relation to their size, they have the strongest jaws that exist. Spotted hyena cubs are born with highly developed senses of sight, hearing and smell and with all their teeth.

African savanna
Equatorial jungle
Madagascar Island