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Name: Striped hyena

Latin name: Hyaena hyaena

Appearance: A large, powerful animal, the striped hyena is covered in pale tan to greyish fur, which is usually quite shaggy. Black stripes slide down its sides in a vertical arrangement, and the muzzle/face is usually dark with a black throat patch on the underside of the neck. From the nape of its neck down to the rump, the back is covered by a thick, erectile mane. This mane can be raised to make the hyena look quite large, and is used in displays against other striped hyenas. Striped hyenas frequently grab and shake each other by the neck in mock fighting rituals. The legs are long, and also striped, while the body and neck are thick and heavy-set. The tail is fluffy and reaches the hocks.

Striped hyenas weigh from 57 to 90 pounds (26-41 kg). Length is about 4 to 5 feet (1.2-1.45m) from head to tail, and they stand about 2.2 to 2.5 feet (66-75cm) tall at the shoulder. There is not much difference between the sizes of the male and female.

Habitat: From Morocco and Senegal to Tanzania, across Asia Mino, the Arabian Peninsula, all the way to eastern India. Striped hyenas inhabit open country, as well as the forests of India and the seashore, scavenging on dead animals which wash up from the sea. The hyenas are mainly active at night, resting by day under protruding rocks. Prey includes mammalian carrion, as well as the goats, sheep, donkeys, and horses of northern herdsmen, which tends to bring the hyenas into conflict with humans. They will also eat insects, small animals such as mice, and fruit. Indeed, they often raid melon patches in Israel, bringing them into conflict with farmers.

Reproduction: Females tend to come into sexual maturity at about 2-3 years, though pregnant females of only 15 months have been reported in the wild. The estrous cycle is about 45-50 days long, though the female is only fertile for one day during that time. Females can come into heat at any time of the year. Once the female has mated, gestation of the young takes about 88-92 days, and anywhere from 1-5 young are born, though usually there are only 2 cubs. Cubs open their eyes from 5-9 days after birth and start eating solid meat at 30 days, though they will continue to nurse for 4-5 months. Adults will bring food home to the den, which is usually in a crevice between rocks or in a hole dug by the parents.

Threats in the Wild: While the striped hyena has no natural predators, it does often come into conflict with humans. Striped hyenas have been known to kill humans, especially children, and they are often poisoned and trapped for preying on livestock or raiding farms. Some of their body parts are also believed to have medicinal value. Striped hyenas have also become endangered through habitat loss.


Macdonald, David M. (2001) The Encyclopedia of Mammals, Barnes and Noble Books, New York Nowak, Ronald M. (1999) Walker's Mammals of the World, Volume 1, Sixth Edition, The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London