Spotted hyena, Africa south of the Sahara, up to 1.7 m (5.6 ft) long Although hyenas look as though they should belong to the dog family, they are actually a separate group of carnivores. There are four species: the meat-eating spotted, striped and brown hyenas, and the insectivorous aardwolf. Hyenas live in family groups and hunt or scavenge together, usually at night. Spotted hyenas can kill large prey such as wildebeest after chasing them for several kilometres. A hyena’s strong jaws and large teeth can crush even large bones, horns and hooves, making sure there is little left after a kill.
Hunting and scavenging
A pack of spotted hyenas feed on a wildebeest.Hyenas kill most of their food for themselves. They may also scavenge on the kills made previously by lions and other large carnivores. They often drive away other smaller predators, such as cheetahs or leopards, from their kills. Hyenas use their powerful jaws to crush bones and extract the marrow. When hunting, a pack of hyenas will stalk an individual for hours until it is completely exhausted, at which point they finally move in for the kill.
The spotted hyena is the commonest large carnivore in Africa.
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