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Why is the hyena different from other wild animals? Why is it one of the most dangerous animals in the world which can dare and chase a lion from its own kill. Is there any thing special about hyenas that mane them strong or act the way they do. As far as hyenas are concerned, you find that Hyenas are not members of the canid (dog) or family  (cat) families. Hyenas belong to their own family as well as their own, Hyaenidae. As far as hyenas groupings and distinctions are concerned, hyenas come from four members of the Hyaenidae family: the famous striped hyena Hyaena hyaena, the “giggly” spotted hyena Crocuta crocuta which is home to many African region, the brown hyena Parahyaena brunnea, and the aardwolf Proteles cristatus (it’s a hyena, not a wolf). With their role in the African great plains and along the Savannah, the hyenas are famous and are nicknamed the  “scourge of the Serengeti,” . Is it a name which they cherish or is the hyena just an animal which demands respect from the world at large. The hyenas wherever they are are part of the great natural cycle of the world and the worlds plains forest and deserts. They tend to clean up all what is left by other animals and thus making the African plains and Savannah lands conducive in maintaining a clean environment.These beautiful animals but they play an important role: cleanup crew!

While people call it one of the great animals which doesn't have a beautiful head, The strange Striped hyenas have broad heads with dark eyes which have the power to scare a lion and the rest of the big five while feasting on their meal, thick muzzles, and large, pointed ears. The hyenas  muzzle, ears, and throat are entirely black, but the coats of the hyenas may be golden yellow, brown, or gray with black stripes on the body and legs.  These great bests of the African jungle, the great hyena can camouflage itself very  well in tall, dry golden grass. This is one way in which the hyena can be able to blend and surprise its enemy thereby attacking and satisfying its hunger when there is little scarcity of animals to hunt.

The most striking feature on the hyena is the legs: the front legs are much longer than the hind legs. This gives hyenas their distinctive walk, making them seem like they're always limping uphill. Yet hyenas are agile and can run, trot, and walk with ease.

Within no time, the hyenas can seem to look bigger than they really are. In this strange aspect, one who has not be able to know or learn anything about hyenas might be puzzles  but for those who have cats are well familiar with the fact that cats are the mostly likely to appear fat or bigger than usual just because they want to trap warm air so as to keep them warm during cold weather. The mane of the hyena is raised giving it  a mean look when the hyena feels it is in danger. Hyenas use this animal instinct to communicate to their herd and communicate while they are out there int heir feeding grounds, playing or while the hyenas are just having fun. Just as  good dog who needs some petting, hyenas also use their tails and body postures to help them communicate their feelings to others.

While hyenas have special modified ears, you get that hyenas  hear sounds that human ears are not able to comprehend. Hyenas can hear sounds which tell them that it is time for the hyaenas to go hunting for that animal. Why do hyenas have this communication system? As strange as hyenas are, their body is just build for survival in the African Savannah. Just like the other big cats, hyenas also scent gland to mark its territory. While each and every  hyena knows its own feeding and breeding ground, these beautiful dangerous hyenas  leaves their own unique scent while in their territory or venturing in other new animal territory which is not inhabited by any other hyenas in the region and gain control of the new territory. 

Not different from the dog family, the hyenas have rather large heads and come quite strong jaws filled with powerful huge teeth. Its so amazing to know that hyenas have larger teeth which are used to crush bones. There is no animal in the wild which can crush bones like the hyena. Being carnivorous the hyenas strong powerful jaws and extra strong teeth are a perfect sign of their adaptation to their carnivorous diet. 

Given the  chance of eating anything which has flesh,  hyenas can eat any animal big and small depending on the kind of animal available in their feeding ground or being hunted by the pack. Despite the fact that hyenas are scavengers you find that hyenas are proud to say  skilled hunters. As you have already seen them on TV or hyenas on most animal safaris in Africa, there have been many dangerous animal videos which have shown hyenas killing or bringing even larger animals of prey.  

In different parts of the world which also have different types or species of hyaenas, you find that these dangerous animals have also been involved in many animal or domestic animal attacks as well. There are do doubt cases very minute in fact whereby  some striped hyenas on the other hand have been able to prey on cattle, sheep, dogs, goats, donkeys, and horses. Does that mean that humans are spared in this food chain. Well while in the African Savannah jungles and are alone, hyenas will not hesitate to attack and make a meal out of you. With many of these dangerous animals still roaming freely in some parts of the African forest, those who venture in the forest find themselves victims of hyena attacks while some hyenas are killed just because they were protecting their territory.

With all the leftovers of animal remains strewn in the African grassland and extended territory where these strange loving animals of Africa Asia and Europe live, you find that these hyenas depending with the season or natural conditions will feed on anything ranging from dry bones, teeth, horns, and hooves and any other  body parts that other predators find not suitable for their weak stomach or due to the availability of fresh food. 

Once thought to be solitary, recent studies have shown that striped hyenas live in small groups led by a dominant female. Primarily nocturnal or crepuscular, they will rest out of sight during the day in a natural cave or a burrow dug into the hillside. Hyenas have even been known to take over another animal’s den. None too tidy, its lair will be littered with leftover bones! Striped hyenas eke out a life in habitat too difficult to live in for other large predators. They avoid true deserts and must have a water source within 6 miles (10 kilometers). Making sure privacy is respected, hyenas scent mark the edges of their territory. With sharp vision, acute hearing (really big ears!), and a keen sense of smell, hyenas patrol their territory nightly.

Striped hyena pups certainly do not grow up in the lap of luxury. Not much is known about their solitary and secluded family life. Young are typically born at a time when food is plentiful. After a three-month gestation, mother hyena will return to the den to give birth. Usually two to four fluffy striped hyenas will be born with eyes sealed; they are helpless and don't open their eyes for 7 to 9 days. Without a pack for support, the mother will care for the pups all on her own. The pups will nurse for four to five months. The young carnivores will taste their first solid food at about one month old; when the mother brings food back to the den, the hungry pups bleat with anticipation. They stay with their mother for quite a while to learn proper food gathering and hunting techniques. But when the pups are two years old she is ready for her offspring to leave, and the youngsters must find a territory all their own.

While hunting a hyena will move in silent and will only howl to call others or to communicate to the rest of the heard while in trouble or summoning the rest in case there is food available which could be heard cackling howl. The different sounds made by hyena are mostly successive rapid, some brief whinnies or cackles when it's excited or just being interested with something. When a hyena is threatened or finds itself in danger with other rival hyenas, the  hyena will growl just as a hungry or angry lion would do gradually rising to a roar, followed by a low, snapping lunge. These strange sounds or noises made by hyenas are just unique to listen to and there is just a lot which we are yet to understand about this hyena language and its communication as a whole.

With no yardstick to gauge which kind of hyena is more dangerous or aggressive than the other kinds or types of hyenas, you find that on an average, the, striped hyena is not considered very aggressive and usually avoids contact with other animals.  Does that mean that hyenas are very shy animals? Well so long as these animals keep out of sight but can smell your presence, they are just the perfect animals which can not go hungry while out in the jungle.

However, it has been known to attack and kill people, especially children. Misunderstood and viewed as dangerous or destructive, it is poisoned and trapped for preying on livestock or raiding farms. Some people even mistakenly believe the hyena's body parts can be used as medicine for humans. Once numerous, the striped hyena population is dwindling and has disappeared from some areas altogether.

The spotted hyena is more closely related to cats, civets, and genets. Also called the laughing hyena, this interesting carnivore is found throughout Africa below the Sahara Desert, living in savannas, semiarid regions, scrublands and, in some cases, in mountainous areas. The spotted hyena is thought to be the strongest, most capable hunter of any predator its size. It is the largest member of the hyena family (other members are the striped hyena, brown hyena, and aardwolf). Female spotted hyenas are a bit larger than the males, but otherwise they look exactly the same.

A nose that never stops sniffing, spotted hyenas are always on the alert for danger—or a meal!

A little of this, a little of that
The spotted hyena looks a bit thrown together. It has a large head with a long, thick, muscular neck and powerful jaws that give the hyena the strongest bite of any mammal. Its front legs are longer than its back legs, giving the animal a hunched look, and its paws have four toes with nonretractable claws. The short, coarse fur has a yellow or gray tint and is covered in spots, which are darker on younger hyenas. The spotted hyena has a short mane that is always standing upright, making the hyena look bigger and more dangerous to opponents. Its only true predators are lions and humans.

the Hyena Africa's complex clan
The social system of spotted hyenas is very complex. There can be 50 to 100 individuals in a “clan.” Spotted hyenas have a matriarchal society. The females are larger and much more assertive and aggressive than the males. A lower-ranking female’s cubs rank higher than the highest-ranking males. Lower-ranking males are forced to stay on the outskirts of the clan and only allowed to participate during a hunt or a fight.

The spotted hyena is the most social of the hyena family and lives in a large group called a clan.

Hee hee, haw haw!
Spotted hyenas are known for their very distinctive vocalizations. In fact, they are one of the most vocal mammals in Africa, with over 11 different sounds that researchers have recorded. The famous chatter they produce actually sounds like a human laughing hysterically. This “laugh” is used during times of nervous excitement or submission to a dominant hyena. The "whoop" is a call that can be heard from far away and is used to find cubs, claim territory, or bring the clan together. Groans and squeals are used to greet each other. Other sounds include grunting, growling, and yelling. Besides communicating with each other, hyenas will use their calls and scent marks to mark their territory.

With its powerful bite, the hyena is known for its bone-crushing abilities.

Spotted hyenas give new meaning to the phrase "lick the platter clean." They eat practically every part of the animal, including skin, hooves, bone, and teeth. Powerful jaws are able to crush bones with ease. They actually prefer skin and bone to eating meat. Most other predators won’t even try to eat those things. There are some items that hyenas can’t digest, such as hair and horns, although they still eat them. Spotted hyenas regurgitate what they can’t digest in the form of a pellet.

What spotted hyenas eat and how they get their food depends on the time of day. Most people think hyenas are scavengers only. Spotted hyenas do scavenge during the day, but they have to compete with jackals and vultures for these leftovers. In a large group, spotted hyenas are able to chase lions away from a kill. But at night the hyena's impressive hunting skills come into play. Able to chase down prey over long distances while running at up to 37 miles per hour (60 kilometers per hour), spotted hyenas often pick out the young or weak from the herd. What they hunt depends on numbers: the bigger the hyena clan, the larger the prey, from young rhinos, adult wildebeest, and zebras to Cape buffalo. The hyenas work in an organized pack when hunting such large prey. Smaller packs are used to chase down gazelles, eland, impalas, warthogs, and waterbucks.

When hunting alone, a spotted hyena goes after smaller prey such as ground birds, rabbits, springhare, bat-eared foxes, porcupines, jackals, fish, and puff adders—even an ostrich egg is fair game! They will eat quite a bit at one time, and any leftovers are buried in a mud hole for a later meal.

Spotted hyena cubs have dark fur for their first two months.

Tough cubs
Life starts out rough for a young hyena cub. The average litter has two cubs, and the competition between them starts right away. Cubs are born with dark fur, their eyes open, and some teeth already present. They fight over who will be the dominant one and nurse first, sometimes killing their weaker sibling. Mom keeps the cubs in a private den at first to ensure their survival. The spotted hyena is the only hyena species that uses specific dens to shelter cubs.

At two to six weeks of age, the mother moves the cubs to a den shared by others where they can meet the rest of the clan and begin to establish their rank. How they hunt, how they eat, and how they fight are all determined by rank within the clan. At about two months of age, the cub loses its brown coat and begins to look like the spotted adults. Female cubs always stay with their birth clan, but the males are forced out upon maturity at around age three, if not sooner.

Lions and hyenas compete over the same food in overlapping territories. Sometimes the hyenas do the work of organizing, chasing down, and killing prey only to have lions "steal" it. Both hyenas and lions mark and establish territories, and both species are always on guard.

Spotted hyenas are great swimmers and may swim after escaping prey.
Garbage collectors of the Serengeti
Spotted hyenas play a major role in Africa. They help control populations of a wide variety of species, and, because they'll eat almost anything they appear to clean up everything in their path. While spotted hyenas are not threatened at the moment, things could change. Drought can have drastic effects on the food chain, from herbivores to carnivores.

Hyenas do not hunt humans, although there are rare reports of killings, yet humans have been caught shooting hyenas on the spot just because of what they are. The spotted hyena is a clever creature that should bring a chuckle to your heart!