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Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta) Fact Sheet, 2014   Tags: animals, carnivores, fact sheets, mammals, san diego zoo, sdzg, wildlife  

Last Updated: Dec 2, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta) Fact Sheet, 2014

Image credit: San Diego Zoo Global. All rights reserved.

TaxonomyPhysical Characteristics

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Suborder: Feliformia

Family: Hyaenidae

Genus: Crocuta

Species: Crocuta crocuta - spotted hyena

Body Weight: 40-86 kg (88-190 lb); females often weigh more than males.

Body Length: 144-179 cm (4.7-5.9 ft)

Tail Length: c. 2.5 cm (0.8 ft)

Pelage: Short, light brown, beige, sandy, or ginger hair; spotted with black or brown on the neck, shoulders, back, flanks, rump, legs, and tail base.

Distribution & StatusBehavior & Ecology

Range: Sub-Saharan Africa, though historically across Africa and Eurasia.

Habitat: Generalist; semi-desert, savanna and open woodland, dense, dry woodland, and montane regions. Sea level to 4,100 m (13,450 ft).

IUCN Status: Least Concern (ver. 3.1); broadly distributed. Assessed in 2008.

CITES Appendix: Not listed.

Population in Wild: 27,000-47,000; 25% within the Serengeti ecosystem and Kruger National Park.

Locomotion: Run with a loping gate; travel long distance in search of prey. Non-arboreal. Strong swimmers, capable of submerging for up to 12

Activity Cycle: Nocturnal, though not uncommonly active in daylight. Often rest for long periods of time.

Social Groups: Highly social, living in clans of one to several matrilineal lines and immigrant males. These stable units are composed of 8-80 individuals. Clan members often range widely. Cooperatively defend territory, food resources, and the communal den site. Dominance hierarchies govern interactions. Females dominate males, receiving preferential access to food.

Diet: Carnivorous, primarily taking medium to large ungulates; though consuming a wide variety of mammals and other animals. Devour all parts,
including hair and bones. Scavenge at times.

Predators: Commonly killed by lions, other spotted hyena, and humans.

Reproduction & DevelopmentSpecies Highlights

Sexual Maturity: 2-3 yrs. Males first reproduce c. 3-4 yrs, females 2-5 yrs.

Gestation: 98-111 days, 110 commonly reported.

Litter Size: 1-2 typically, triplets rare.

Birth Weight: c. 1.5 kg (3.3 lb).

Age at Weaning: c. 1 year.

Longevity: In captivity, to 40 yrs; mean c. 20 yrs.

Feature Facts: Spotted hyenas are large, African carnivores. They form highly social clans, which together can down large ungulate prey such as
zebra, buffalo, or giraffe. They hunt a wide variety of prey and will scavenge at times. Specialized teeth and digestion enable the consumption of nearly all portions of their prey: meat, bones, and hair. Clan members cooperatively defend territory, food resources, and the communal den site. All members adhere to a strict social hierarchy in which females are dominant to males. Females typically remain in their natal clan for life, while males emigrate shortly before reaching sexual maturity.


About This Fact Sheet

© 2014 San Diego Zoo Global. Last updated October 2014.

How to cite: Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta) Fact Sheet, 2014. c2014. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Global; [accessed YYYY Mon DD]. 
(note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2014 Sep 15)

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Global makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to

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