Did you know there are four different species of hyenas? Or that hyenas tend to roam (and sometimes hunt) in clans? How about the fact that hyenas laugh to communicate? Today, we’ll take a deeper dive into the life of a hyena with these interesting 10 facts. Plus, learn where you can find them at Busch Gardens Tampa.
Where Do They Live?
Hyenas live in savannas, grasslands, sub-desserts, forests and mountains of Africa and Asia.
They Are Not Members of the Dog or Cat Families
Despite looking like a dog, Hyenas are not members of the dog (or cat for that matter) family. They are so unique they have a family all their own called Hyaenidae. With that said, the mongoose and meerkat are the Hyenas closest relatives.
There are four members of the Hyaenidae family
Within the Hyaenidae family are four members - the striped hyena, the “giggly” spotted hyena, the brown hyena, and the aardwolf.
Spotted Hyenas are the Largest
The Spotted Hyenas are the largest type at 4 to 5.9 feet in body length. They have a shoulder height of 2.5 to 2.6 feet and weigh 88 to 190 pounds.
The Smallest Hyenas are Aardwolves
Aardwolves are the smallest at 33 to 41 inches, and about one-fourth of that is the tail. They weigh from 8 to 14 kg.
Their Diet is Carnivorous
Hyenas prey on wildebeest, zebra, and buffalo, among others.
Why Do They Laugh?
Spotted hyenas are the type that “laugh.” This is a form of communication to relay excitement or frustration. The “laugh” can usually be heard during a hunt.
Hyenas feature prominently in the folklore and mythology
Hyenas have a bad rap in folklore and mythology. They are commonly viewed as frightening and worthy of contempt and are associated with witchcraft. In some cultures, hyenas are thought to influence people’s spirits, rob graves, and steal livestock and even children.
Each Species Forms Clans
Hyenas can be very social, and even when they portray solitary behaviors, they still form clans. Spotted hyenas are very social and live in groups called clans. These clans can have up to 80 members. Striped Hyenas were once thought to be solitary, but they actually live in small groups, however, they forage alone. Brown hyenas will form clans of up to 10 members and Aardwolves live as monogamous pairs with their young.
The striped hyena is mentioned in the Bible
Hyenas have been on Earth for a long time. 24 million years to be exact so it is no surprise that the Bible references the animal.
Take a step inside The Edge of Africa at Busch Gardens Tampa and see these spotted clans for yourself. And see the park’s newest hyena babies, who were bred as a part of the Species Survival Program.