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Wednesday Hyena - Hyaena brunnea Edition

Hail Hyena Fans!

Today's Hyena is the rarest of all four varieties. The Brown Hyena (Hyaena brunnea) can be found in the southern parts of Africa, specifically Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. They are known to have the longest coats of all h=Hyena species, and when the Brown Hyena is frightened or displaying aggression, the coat stands on end, making the animal look bigger.


Brown Hyenas can grow up to 55 inches (140 cm) in body length, with a 14-inch (35 cm) tail. They stand about 31 inches (80 cm) at the shoulder. There is little sexual dimorphism between males and females, which means there is little difference in size between adults. Average adults weigh about 121 pounds (55 kg), though some of the biggest Brown Hyenas have been recorded to weigh up to 160 pounds (73 kg). They have extremely powerful jaws - even very young cubs have the strength to crush the bones of a springbok on their first day of life.

The social structure of Brown Hyena clans are similar to that of wolves. There is an alpha male and alpha female, usually a breeding pair and their offspring. Clan order is maintained through mock-fights and aggressive displays. Most often, the young males will emigrate to other clans when they reach sexual maturity. Brown Hyenas do not claim or defend a territory, and they do not hunt together. They will usually forage for themselves along hunting paths that are used by other Hyenas, even other predator species. This is usually done at night, since Brown Hyenas are nocturnal. They will scavenge from the kills of larger predators when they can, though they will catch and eat small mammals, insects, eggs, and even fruit and fungi.


Female Brown Hyenas will usually have their first litter when they are two years old. They will mate with nomadic males or the dominant male of their own clan, giving birth to a litter of one to five cubs. Sometimes females of the same clan will give birth at close to the same time. In this case, the cubs of both litters will be able to nurse from either of the mothers, though the mothers will favor their own cubs. Though the adults will carry food back to the cubs, they will not be fully weaned or leave the den area until they are 14 months old.


Brown Hyenas compete aggressively with larger predators for kills. They have been known to charge fully-grown male Leopards in order to steal kills. They've even been observed to "tree" the big cats, threatening them and cornering them while the rest of the clan takes the kill.

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