Are hyenas closer to dogs or cats?

Hyenas are not dogs or cats. They belong to a distinct family called Hyaenidae. Hyenas share more DNA with cats than dogs. Yet hyenas diverged from other feliforms. There are four modern hyena species. These are the spotted hyena, striped hyena, brown hyena and aardwolf.

At one time, two types of hyena existed – dog-like hyenas and bone-crushers. As canines spread, they outcompeted the dog-like hyenas. Climate changes also drove dog-like hyenas extinct. Only bone-crushing hyenas remain minus the aardwolf.

Hyenas do resemble dogs in appearance and behavior due to convergent evolution. But genetically hyenas fall under suborder Feliformia with cats and viverrids like civets and mongooses. Their social structure also differs from canines. Hyenas live in large, female-dominated clans up to 90 members.

Eating bones aids hyenas when prey is scarce. Bones provide nutrients like calcium and phosphorus hyenas require. So their ability to digest bones becomes advantageous during lean times.

Are hyenas native to Africa?

Hyenas are opportunistic predators and scavengers. They play an important role in their ecosystems. Hyenas are relatively long-lived animals, with a lifespan of up to 25 years in the wild and up to 30 years in captivity.

The brown hyena develops on a larger scale in unprotected areas. This has led to it being considered near endangered by direct hunting in these unregulated spaces. This is because they are mistakenly considered dangerous to livestock. The other hyena species are more widespread in protected areas. However, some areas declared as protected also allow hunting of these animals.

Spotted hyenas are hyenas native to Sub-Saharan Africa south of the Sahara. The IUCN classifies them as vulnerable. Spotted hyenas are extremely social mammals that live in clans known as prides ranging from two to forty individuals. Spotted hyenas are regarded as the second largest carnivore in Africa, preceded by lions.

They have strong jaws and teeth well designed for crushing large bones. Their fur varies with age. Unlike striped and brown hyenas it is shorter and spotted rather than striped.

The striped hyena is closely related to the brown hyena. Hyenas are carnivores native to Africa and India. Although hyenas look like rather large wild dogs they are actually more closely related to meerkats. Female hyenas are treated with more hostility than males since males from different clans are needed for breeding.

The striped and brown hyenas are mainly scavengers but will eat insects and fruit. The spotted hyena hunts in packs for large mammals. Some report states hyenas are closer to cats because it belongs to Feliformia. Hyenas are similar to canines in cursorial non-arboreal hunting catching prey with teeth not claws. Both can choose to store food.

Spotted hyenas have a sandy-yellowish grey coat with black or brown colored spots. Sexual dimorphism is present; females weigh more. An female weighs 55-70 kg; males 45-60 kg. Hyenas have strong jaws, massive neck, longer front legs, non-retractable claws and sloped back.

The spotted hyena is the most widespread. Between 30,000 and 50,000 roam the wild native to Africa where they thrive. It is the most social carnivore living in groups with hierarchies. This hyena has a sturdy body but underdeveloped hindquarters. Its skull is more prominent than striped hyena’s. Jaws powerful enough to crush bones and hold prey long. Bite force outmatches brown bear.

The hyena family contains four existing species. The spotted, brown and aardwolf are native to Africa. Striped hyena endemic to North Africa, Middle East and India. None endangered but striped and brown threatened by habitat loss and hunting. More extinct species known from fossil record dating back millions of years.

A native of North and East Africa, Central Asia, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, and the Caucasus, striped hyenas live in open savannas, grasslands, scrub woodlands in arid to semi-arid environments. They live in small groups but forage alone. When food plentiful a mother shares den with daughters.

Hyenas inhabit a wide range of habitats including grasslands, woodlands, savannas and mountains. Also found in deserts and near human settlements. More prolific in areas with abundant gazelles and wildebeests. In some areas they compete with lions for food. Mostly nocturnal but active during day. Females birth litters of one to six cubs born with eyes open and teeth erupted.

How do hyenas eat?

Hyenas typically hunt in packs. Their clans can grow up to 100 hyenas large. Hyenas eat a wide variety of prey, from wildebeest to termites. They consume termites by licking them off surfaces with a flat, sticky tongue. They can consume 30,000 termites every night. The other hyena species are carnivores, only eating meat. They take advantage of other animals’ deaths for easy food, but they are not only scavengers.

Hyenas live in groups known as clans led by females. In a meal, a spotted hyena can consume up to 14.5 kg of meat. Though labeled as scavengers, they prove themselves to be adept carnivores hunting 95% of their total food daily. The spotted hyenas are the largest of all hyenas.

Hyena mothers give birth to 1 to 3 pups initially defenseless as they’re born blind and deaf. They feed off mothers’ milk the first weeks, then eat meat scavenged by mothers. Alone, hyenas only hunt much smaller animals like hares, mice, insects, fish, and bird eggs.

Hyenas are apex predators feeding on wildebeest, antelope, zebra, buffalo and giraffes. They scavenge carrion and hunt smaller prey like insects, reptiles and birds. They eat whatever food is available.

Although rarely, hyenas scavenge leftovers. They hunt in groups of 3 to 5, larger for large mammals. Different hyena species have different diet preferences. Spotted hyenas love to hunt small, average-sized animals, always seeking easier prey.

Striped hyenas have high stomach acid concentration, very low pH, like other scavengers. Hyenas in captivity eat a diet like in the wild of mostly meat. Captive striped hyenas eat commercial meat diet, fruits, vegetables, mice, rats and bones. Spotted hyenas eat more meat.

Hyenas can simply pull down large animals. They’re not choosy, eating from birds to lizards to snakes. They often outrun competitors hunting in large numbers. Even lionesses leave their hunt when hyenas arrive in groups.

Hyenas rarely eat lions as they are much larger. But when hyenas find a weak, isolated lion, especially when food is scarce, they may attack and eat it, or unprotected cubs. Spotted hyenas love to hunt easier prey.

Hyenas think they are low on the food chain below lions. They need leaders to bring them food. But spotted hyenas hunt 50% of their own food. They are not pure scavengers.

Is a hyena be tamed?

Hyenas can be tamed, although this is not often seen. Some people have trained hyenas to do basic tricks, but taming a hyena takes years of dedication, and a strong bond must be formed. Taming a hyena takes patience and knowledge. Food and reward based training can teach a hyena basic commands and tricks, but overdoing this could lead to aggressive behavior. Thorough research is important before attempting to tame a hyena.

The striped hyena is easily tamed, particularly when young. Although they kill dogs in the wild, striped hyenas raised in captivity can form bonds with them. Historians theorized that ancient Egyptians domesticated striped hyenas and used them for hunting.

Spotted hyenas are easily tamed and habituated to human contact, though house training them is difficult. Striped hyenas too are easily tamable and trainable.

Hyenas have specialized feeding needs. They need cat food, dog food, and carrion to stay healthy. There are more than 2,300 breeds of domestic hyenas worldwide.

Wild hyenas usually attack humans, especially children and women. Hyenas are risky, and most states and cities don’t allow them as exotic pets. Controlling a hyena is complicated.

When contacting hyena breeders, consult with them about guides and warnings to learn how to train and tame a pet hyena. A pet hyena will want a lot of attention once adapted. They usually behave friendly and affectionate as dogs.

Owning a hyena is a massive financial investment. You need to build a huge enclosure, get special licenses, pay for lots of meat, buy a giant meat freezer, and spend most of your day taming it. Even if you have the time and money, your life will become hyenas.