A baby hyena is called a cub, and is born in an underground den dug by the mother.
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 by pushing it away from the mother.
They need this toughness to survive in the pack, and thrive on the African savanna.
The spotted hyena is the most common hyena species, and also the largest.
Adults are about 30 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 100 to 180 pounds.
Female hyenas are larger and more aggressive than males.
Hyena pregnancy lasts about 110 days, and newborns are well-developed.
Spotted hyena babies are born with black, scruffy fur, tiny teeth already broken through their gums, and their eyes open.
They weigh only about one pound when newborn, and for the first few days of life, the mother hyena may keep them from the rest of the clan.
At about 3 weeks old the black coat starts to lighten, and spots appear. The babies become much more active and mingle with the clan.
The mother hyena will leave them with male "baby sitters" as she goes out to hunt with the female hyenas.
The society of the spotted hyena is matriarchal, meaning that females are larger, stronger and more aggressive than males.
Female spotted hyenas have unusually high testosterone levels that don't just change behavior but also transform the female sex organs.
The female hyena looks almost identical to the male, and even experts can't sex them without a physical examination.
This has 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 to complete the act.
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.
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