Mike Unwin
United Kingdom UK

Mike is an award winning wildlife writer, editor of Travel Zambia magazine and author of the Bradt Guide to Southern African Wildlife.

Category: African Wildlife

Spotted Hyena  (Crocuta crocuta)

‘Ugly’, ‘cowardly’, ‘thieving’… It seems that nobody has anything good to say about Africa’s commonest large carnivore, the spotted hyena. Look beyond the popular prejudice, however, and you’ll find a complex, efficient and versatile predator, with some fascinating secrets...

5 Fascinating Facts About the Spotted Hyena

  1. A female spotted hyena’s external genitalia resemble a male’s and includes a ‘pseudopenis’, through which she urinates, copulates and gives birth. This explains why ancient civilizations believed hyenas to be hermaphrodites.
  2. Spotted hyenas suckle their young for up to 18 months – much longer than most carnivores.
  3. A spotted hyena’s heart is twice the weight of a lion’s, in proportion to its body mass. This gives it enough stamina to pursue its prey for up to 5 km.
  4. A spotted hyena’s jaws are the strongest of any mammal. They can exert 40% more bite force than a leopard and are able to crack open the femur of a giraffe.
  5. The Maasai people of East Africa traditionally left out their dead to be consumed by spotted hyenas.

A wildlife adventure

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