A baby hyena enters the world ready to rumble. Born in litters of only 2 or 3 cubs, the baby hyenas are so aggressive that they may force a weaker sibling to starve.
They need this toughness to survive in the pack, and thrive on the African savanna.
For centuries hyenas were said to have the souls of the damned trapped inside of them, and when a clan is on the hunt, calling and squealing to one another, it certainly sounds like cackling demons.
In addition, female spotted hyenas have very unusual genitalia that outwardly resemble that of a male. This shocks even many modern cultures who fear it as a sign of anarchy or the work of the devil.
And, of course, hyenas have long been considered scurrilous and sneaky scavengers, but they are actually skilled hunters and clans will organize to take down prey as large as zebra. Most clans hunt and kill the majority of what they eat, but, like all the animals of the African plains, they will also steal absolutely anything that isn't nailed down.
Although they are zoologically classified in their own family, hyenas share tendencies with both felines and canines. Like canines they hunt by running down their prey and grabbing it with their mouths, not their paws. But, like felines, they groom themselves often and scent-mark their territory.
One of the most amazing hyena facts is that they are almost impossible to sex. Their appearance, habits and sounds are already weird, but when it comes to sex, there is no more confusing creature than the spotted hyena. Unusually high testosterone levels in female spotted hyenas create not only larger, stronger and more aggressive girls, but also transform the female sex organs.
The clitoris of the female spotted hyena is a tube-like pseudo penis 6 to 7 inches long that looks almost identical to a male penis. Completing the illusion, the labia are fused together in what appears to be a scrotum.
These organs make it nearly impossible for even experienced hyena observers to tell the difference, and have caused many to believe that hyenas are clans of devilish hermaphrodites whose cackles mock the norm.
But actual intercourse is no laughing matter, it is a delicate and stressful process where a submissive male must somehow arch his way under the female and insert his penis into a dangling tube.
The female urinates and gives birth through the urogenital canal which runs down the center of the clitoris. Birth is extremely difficult due to the length of the canal, and death during the first delivery is about 1 in 10. Subsequent deliveries are easier. There are usually two cubs delivered, but fighting between the cubs often occurs, particularly if they are the same sex, and the weaker sibling will often perish in the first weeks.
Young males will leave the clan
at about 2 years, females will remain for life. - Hyena
|Hyena Facts - animalstats -|
|Africa, Asia||savanna, sub-desert||15 - 25 years||wildebeest|
|ENEMIES||AVG..HEIGHT||AVG. WEIGHT||GENDER DIFFERENCE|
|lions||28 - 34 inches||100 - 180 pounds||females larger, dominant|
|# of young||GESTATION||BIRTH WEIGHT||AT BIRTH|
|usually 2||110 days||1 pound||furred,
|RAISED BY||LEAVE DEN||WEANED||INDEPENDENT|
|5 months||1 year||2 years|
|leave clan||stay with clan||30 mph||no present risk|
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