15 Weird and Interesting Facts About Hyenas

Despite what Lion King may have you think, hyenas do not just laugh for fun.

15 Weird and Interesting Facts About Hyenas

Hyenas may be one of the most unpopular animals due to their weird mannerisms and reputation of being scavengers. Yet there’s more to them than meets the eye. They are even weirder than you thought but still have many interesting aspects about them.

1. Female hyenas are the more dominant sex. The are larger and more aggressive than their male counterparts, having three times as much testosterone in their bodies. They also have a pseudo-penis, basically an elongated clitoris, which can be sometimes longer than the human penis.

2. This pseudo-penis is used for urination, copulation, and birth. However, it is so narrow that it suffocates many cubs to death during the birthing process. The mother can also die from a ruptured pseudo-penis.

3. The life of a hyena cub is even harder because the mother has only two nipples and the cubs have to struggle for milk, leaving the weakest to die of starvation.

15 Weird and Interesting Facts About Hyenas

4. Though hyenas look very much like dogs, they are in no way related to them as they belong to a unique family of their own called Hyaenidae. 

5. The larger the size of an animal’s frontal cortex, the more intelligence it possesses. The hyena’s frontal cortex is as large as a chimpanzee’s own. A study by Duke University showed that a captive pair of hyenas did well in tasks that involved problem solving and social cooperation. And they did so using only non-verbal communication. The study proved that they are smarter than chimps.

6. Despite what Lion King may have you think, hyenas do not just laugh for fun. Their laugh can also indicate social status, age, frustration, or distress. In fact, the higher the pitch of an hyena’s laughter, the higher their status in a pack.

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7. Hyenas and lions are sworn enemies. They is due to the fact that they fight over the same territories and hunt the same prey. Sometimes, hyenas hunt and kill baby lions.

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8. When separated for a long time, they often engage in bizarre greeting ceremonies in which both male and female hyenas have erections.

9. Hyenas are most active at night.

10. Interestingly, the hyena’s closest relatives include the mongoose and the meerkat.

11. Contrary to what many would believe, Hyenas are not just scavengers. They hunt in packs and a large percentage of their meals come from hunts. A group of hyenas can rip an entire zebra apart in less than 30 minute, leaving no leftovers.

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12. Due to their reputation of being scavengers and their creepy laughter, hyenas are one of the most misunderstood animals on earth

In his book Green Hills of Africa, Ernest Hemingway wrote of a hyena: “Fisi, the hyena, hermaphroditic self-eating devourer of the dead, trailer of calving cows, ham-stringer, potential biter-off of your face at night while you slept, sad yowler, camp-follower, stinking, foul, with jaws that crack the bones the lion leaves, belly dragging, loping away on the brown plain …”

13. They make up a large part of the African ecosystems.

14. Hyenas have existed for over 20 million years.

15. They are bolder and more ferocious than most people think. They’ve earned the reputation of attacking and eating humans.


What other facts do you know about these cunning creatures? Let us know in the comment section below.


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