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Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta) Fact Sheet: Summary

Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta) Fact Sheet

Spotted hyena

Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta)

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.


Taxonomy Physical 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 & Status Behavior & 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 (2014 assessment)

CITES Appendix: not listed

Population in Wild: 27,000-47,000 individuals; most abundant 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 & Development Species 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.

Typical Life Expectancy:
Managed care: median life expectancy of about 24 years

Feature Facts

  • Large, African carnivore
  • Form highly social clans, which together can hunt down large ungulate prey such as zebra, buffalo, or giraffe
  • Hunt a wide variety of prey and 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 clan members adhere to a strict social hierarchy; 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

© 2014-2019 San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. Population estimates and IUCN Status updated Apr 2019.

How to cite: Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta) Fact Sheet. c2014-2019. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance; [accessed YYYY Mon DD]. spottedhyena. 
(note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2014 Sep 15)

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance 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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