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Males perform a bowing display to females before mating. The male lowers his muzzle to the ground, advances quickly toward the female, bows again, and then paws the ground close behind the female. The dominance of females assures that males are timid and will retreat immediately if the female shows any aggression.

The female's reproductive tract makes mating somewhat difficult. Male hyaenas approach and slide their haunches under the female to achieve intromission. Once intromission is acheived they move to a more typical mating posture, with the male's underside resting on the female's back. The female phallus is completely slack during mating. Estes, ; Frank, et al. Crocuta crocuta clans are matrilinear and females are dominant over males. Juvenile males emigrate after puberty and join new clans where their position in the dominance hierarchy may increase over time.

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Females, however, have stable linear dominance hierarchies. In addition, rank is inherited from the mother so, these hierarchies remain stable for many generations. Frank, et al. Crocuta crocuta is highly polygynous and mating is aseasonal. Although all females produce litters, alpha females have a younger age at first breeding, shorter interbirth intervals, and increased survival of offspring. These benefits are passed directly to female offspring. The mechanism responsible for the increased fitness of high ranking females is probably the increased access to food that alpha females receive.

In addition, high ranking female hyaenas seem to preferentially give birth to sons. Infanticide has been witnessed several times in the wild both by hyaenas from neighboring clans and also by females from the same clan. The gestation period is 4 months in C. Females usually bear twins although 1 to 4 young are possible. The females give birth through their penis-like clitoris.

During birth, the clitoris ruptures to allow the young to pass through. The resulting wound takes several weeks to heal.


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Cubs are not weaned until they are between 14 and 18 months of age. Females are capable of producing a litter every 11 to 21 months. The newborns weigh from 1 to 1. Newborns are almost entirely black. If siblings are the same sex, they begin fighting violently soon after birth, which usually results in the death of one of the two. Since single young receive more food and mature faster, this behavior is probably adaptive.

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Two to six weeks after birth, the mother transports young from the burrow in which they were born, often an abandoned aardvark, warthog or bat-eared fox burrow, to a communal den. The major source of food for the young during this time is milk from the mother. Communal denning seems to be an important part of spotted hyaena social behavior, but no communal care of young takes place. One exception to this has been observed in the Kalahari during a particularly difficult period.

Crocuta crocuta has the highest parental investment of any carnivore for several reasons. First, spotted hyaena milk has extremely high energy content. The mean protein content is This is only exceeded by some bears and sea otters. Weaning occurs from about the age of 12 to 16 months, which is extremely late. By the weaning age, juvenile hyaenas already have completely erupted adult teeth, which is also very rare.

The age at sexual maturity is about three years, although some males may be sexually active at two. Finally, females intervene on behalf of their daughters in antagonistic encounters and form coalitions with them to secure the place of the daughters in the dominance hierarchy immediately below that of the mother. Males have not been reported to have a role in parental care. Crocuta crocuta lives about 20 years in the wild. The longest known lifespan for this species in captivity is 41 years and 1 month.

Kruuk, ; Nowak, Crocuta crocuta forms social groups called clans. Larger clans generally occur in prime territory with large prey concentrations, such as the Ngorongoro crater, whereas smaller clans occur in desert areas in southern Africa. All females are dominant to all males, and females remain in their natal clan for their entire lives. Males disperse upon reaching sexual maturity. Once a male joins another clan, he enters a dominance queue that the other males respect. As more males enter the queue and older males die, the male will move up through the social rank.

Males spend a long time developing relationships with females in the clan. They follow females for periods of days or weeks and eventually gain favor with the females through this behavior. East and Hofer, ; Hofer, ; Kruuk, Although spotted hyaenas live in clans, the members of a clan are only observed all together in three circumstances: At kills, when defending the territory, and at a communal den.

More often, the clan members forage alone or in small groups. Higher ranking females have been shown to associate more with kin than low ranking females. This behavior is beneficial to related females because they forage together and engage in coalitionary attacks against unrelated females when competing for food at a kill. Thus, females who associate with thier female kin are able to gather larger amounts of food more efficiently.

In addition to allowing matrilines to defend their rank, close associations among female kin allow some of these kin groups to displace higher ranking matrilines under certain conditions.


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Finally, low ranking females preferentially associate with higher ranking females. It is hypothesized that these low ranking females receive benefits from high ranking females through reciprocal cooperation.

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Holekamp, et al. Crocuta crocuta clans defend group territories. However, they make frequent long distance foraging trips to the nearest ungulate herds to hunt. It allows C. Territories are defended using vocal displays and scent marking. Scent marks are deposited from a secretion of the anal gland and from a secretion of glands on the feet. In addition, spotted hyaenas use communal latrines which also serve to mark territory boundaries.

Hofer and East, ; Hofer, The commuting system of C. Aggression is rare between resident clan members and commuting individual hyaenas. Non-resident hyaenas typically defer to resident clan members at a kill, however this situation may also result in aggression. Crocuta crocuta is well known for the wide variety of vocal communication used.

Hyena Facts - Animal Facts Encyclopedia

Groans and soft squeals are emitted during hyaena greetings. A whoop is used as a contact call in addition to a fast whoop which is used by excited hyaenas at a kill. Males give the fast whoop more often than females but are generally ignored. Female calls generally elicit much more of a reaction. Finally, a lowing call is used by impatient hyaenas who are kept waiting at a kill. Estes, ; Kingdon, ; Nowak, In addition to the previously mentioned calls, hyaenas give several calls related to aggression.

These include grunting, giggling, growling, yelling, and a rattling growl. These calls are given in various aggressive interactions with clan members, other clans, or other species. The giggling is the trademark "laughing" call of the hyaena. Is associated with fear or excitement and is often given when an individual is being chased. Retaliation is the primary reason for hyena killings. We work with communities to help them construct bomas — livestock enclosures — that protect livestock from predators and ultimately mitigates human-wildlife conflict.

You will still be charged in your native currency. Search this site. Wildlife Gallery. Economic Development Government Engagement. Depicted as scavengers, hyenas are actually skillful hunters. Spread the word. Conservation Status: Least Threatened. There are 3 subspecies of hyena Snares kill about adults per year Clans can grow to 80 individuals. Quick Facts. Where do hyenas live? Physical Characteristics. What are hyenas?

Hyenas are not picky eaters. They have a great sense of humor. Hyena cubs stick close to their mothers. So much do the male and female external genitalia resemble each other that…. There are three aquatic families: Otariidae sea lions and fur seals , Phocidae true, or earless, seals , and Odobenidae the walrus. These aquatic families are referred to as pinniped…. The shy, mainly nocturnal aardwolf lives on the arid plains of Africa. There are two geographically separate populations, one centred in South Africa and the other in East Africa. Four species are usually recognized: the golden, or Asiatic, jackal C.

In general, groups of predators work together to isolate one or a few animals from a larger herd. Once the prey animal is separated, it is cornered and brought down by the pack. In addition, when predators hunt…. History at your fingertips. Sign up here to see what happened On This Day , every day in your inbox! By signing up, you agree to our Privacy Notice.

Striped Hyena

Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. More About Hyena 5 references found in Britannica articles Assorted References carnivores In carnivore comparison to aardwolf In aardwolf comparison to jackal In jackal cooperative foraging In cooperative foraging reproduction pattern In animal reproductive system: Adaptations for internal fertilization.

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