Crocuta – Spotted hyena

Also known as 'laughing hyena,' it gets chewed a lot for being cruddy and a good-for-nothing scavenger!

As the largest species within the hyena family, spotted hyenas are formidable predators. Their muscular build and powerful limbs allow them to run for miles in pursuit of prey without tiring, a testament to their endurance and physical prowess. One of the most remarkable features of the spotted hyena is its bite force, which is the strongest of any mammal, allowing them to crush bones and access nutritious marrow within. This capability not only provides them with a vital food source but also plays an important role in nutrient recycling within their environment.

While spotted hyenas are known to scavenge, they are also skilled hunters capable of taking down a variety of prey, including large antelopes and wildebeest. Their ability to consume and process bones makes them one of nature’s most efficient cleanup crews, helping to prevent the spread of disease by consuming carcasses left in the wild. Their diet is varied and opportunistic, allowing them to adapt to different environmental conditions and food availability.

Spotted hyenas live in complex social groups known as clans, which can number up to 80 individuals. These clans are matriarchal, with females being larger and more dominant than males. The social hierarchy within a clan is intricate, with fierce competition for rank and status.

Communication among spotted hyenas is sophisticated, involving a wide range of vocalizations, body postures, and scents. Contrary to the “laughing” descriptor, spotted hyenas’ vocalizations convey important information about age, identity, and status within the clan. These sounds can include whoops, grunts, groans, and giggles, each serving a specific purpose in their communication repertoire.