Spotted hyena facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Spotted hyena
Temporal range: late Pliocene – Recent
Spotted hyena in Amboseli National Park, Kenya
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Hyaenidae
Genus: Crocuta
Binomial name
Crocuta crocuta
(Erxleben, 1777)
Spotted hyena range

The spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) is a species of hyena (the word is spelt "hyaena" in British English). They are often called the laughing hyena. They are found almost everywhere in Sub-Saharan Africa. There are between 27,000 and 47,000 individuals, though their population is getting smaller in the wild. This is because of habitat loss and illegal hunting. They lived in Europe for at least a million years until the end of the Pleistocene.

The spotted hyena is the largest member of the Hyaenidae. They are the most social Carnivora animals, with big group sizes. Hyenas are pack hunters. Their behaviors are still not well understand. However, their social system is not cooperative but competitive. Females take care of their own cubs only, and males are not interested in helping females with their cubs. Females are larger than males and they can control them. The females are the only mammalian species to not have a vaginal opening.

The spotted hyena is a successful animal when hunting their prey. They are also scavengers and can eat skin, bone and other animal waste. Spotted hyenas will hunt with up to 2-5 other hyenas. They will run around herds of animals and choose one to attack. After they have selected their prey, they will chase them for a long time. They can run at speeds up to 60 km/h. Humans have seen spotted hyenas since the Upper Paleolithic. At the time, they used paintings in caves to describe what they saw. Spotted hyenas have a negative reputation in both Western culture and African folklore. In African folklores, spotted hyenas are described as ugly and scared animals. In Western culture, they are seen as greedy, stupid, foolish, powerful and a dangerous animal.


Images for kids

Spotted hyena Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.