Hyaena hyaena and Hyaena brunnea in desert habitats. Spotten hyaenas do not inhabit the coastal tropical rainforest of west or central Africa. In west Africa, the species prefers the Guinea and Sudan savannahs. has been recorded from as high as 4,000 meters in east Africa and Ethiopia. (Hofer, 2002; Kingdon, 1977; Mills and Hes, 1997; Nowak, 1999)is common in many types of open, dry habitat including semi-desert, savannah, acacia bush, and mountainous forest. The species becomes increasingly less common in dense forested habitat and is less common than
Mating in spotted hyaenas is polygynous. Males perform a bowing display to females before mating. The male lowers his muzzle to the ground, advances quickly toward the female, bows again, and then paws the ground close behind the female. The dominance of females assures that males are timid and will retreat immediately if the female shows any aggression. The female's reproductive tract makes mating somewhat difficult. Male hyaenas approach and slide their haunches under the female to achieve intromission. Once intromission is acheived they move to a more typical mating posture, with the male's underside resting on the female's back. The female phallus is completely slack during mating. (Estes, 1993; Frank, et al., 1995; Hofer, 2002; Kingdon, 1977; Nowak, 1999)
The gestation period is 4 months in. Females usually bear twins although 1 to 4 young are possible. The females give birth through their penis-like clitoris. During birth, the clitoris ruptures to allow the young to pass through. The resulting wound takes several weeks to heal. Cubs are not weaned until they are between 14 and 18 months of age. Females are capable of producing a litter every 11 to 21 months.
The newborns weigh from 1 to 1.6 kg and are quite precocious, being born with their eyes open. Newborns are almost entirely black. If siblings are the same sex, they begin fighting violently soon after birth, which usually results in the death of one of the two. Since single young receive more food and mature faster, this behavior is probably adaptive. Two to six weeks after birth, the mother transports young from the burrow in which they were born, often an abandoned aardvark, warthog or bat-eared fox burrow, to a communal den. The major source of food for the young during this time is milk from the mother.
Communal denning seems to be an important part of spotted hyaena social behavior, but no communal care of young takes place. One exception to this has been observed in the Kalahari during a particularly difficult period. (Frank, et al., 1995; Hofer, 2002; Kingdon, 1977; Kruuk, 1972; Nowak, 1999)
Although spotted hyaenas live in clans, the members of a clan are only observed all together in three circumstances: At kills, when defending the territory, and at a communal den. More often, the clan members forage alone or in small groups. Higher ranking females have been shown to associate more with kin than low ranking females. This behavior is beneficial to related females because they forage together and engage in coalitionary attacks against unrelated females when competing for food at a kill. Thus, females who associate with thier female kin are able to gather larger amounts of food more efficiently. In addition to allowing matrilines to defend their rank, close associations among female kin allow some of these kin groups to displace higher ranking matrilines under certain conditions. Finally, low ranking females preferentially associate with higher ranking females. It is hypothesized that these low ranking females receive benefits from high ranking females through reciprocal cooperation. (Holekamp, et al., 1997; Kruuk, 1972)
In addition to the previously mentioned calls, hyaenas give several calls related to aggression. These include grunting, giggling, growling, yelling, and a rattling growl. These calls are given in various aggressive interactions with clan members, other clans, or other species. The giggling is the trademark "laughing" call of the hyaena. Is associated with fear or excitement and is often given when an individual is being chased. (Estes, 1993)
Spotted hyaenas also perform a phallic inspection as a greeting. Two individuals stand head to tail, lift the rear leg closest to the other and then sniff and touch each other's extended phallus for up to 30 seconds. Females usually do not greet males in this manner, and if they do it is usually only the highest ranking males. Cubs can perform this ritual within the first month of life. (Estes, 1993; Hofer, 2002)
Chemical communication occurs because of the use of common latrine areas, as well as in scent marking. Tactile communication is involved in the genital investigation greeting, as well as between mothers and their young, rival young, and mates.
Hyaenas have a reputation for being mostly scavengers, however, this is not accurate. A study in the Kalahari found that 70 % of the diet was composed of direct kills. Typically, clans split up into hunting groups of 2 to 5 individuals, although zebra are hunted in larger groups. In the Serengeti and Ngongoro crater, Tanzania, (Di Silvestre, et al., 2000; Kruuk, 1972)was observed eating a wide variety of items including wildebeest, zebra, Thompson's gazelle, Grant's gazelle, topi, kongoni, waterbuck, eland, Cape buffalo, impala, Warthog, hare, springhare, ostrich eggs, bat-eared fox, golden jackal, porcupine, puff adder, domestic animals, lion, other hyaenas, termites, and afterbirth. Fecal analysis in these same two areas revealed that about 80 % of the samples contained wildebeest, zebra, and various gazelle species. In a study in Senegal, Hyaenas were found to prey on large herbivores such as buffalo, hartebeest, kob, warthog, bushbuck. In addition, has been known to prey on the young of giraffe, hippopotamus and rhinoceros.
Hyaenas are the most numerous large predator in Africa in areas where ungulates are common. Thus, they are an extremely important component of this ecosystem. Hyaenas utilize almost every part of their prey except for horns and rumen, and scavenge often. (Kruuk, 1972; Nowak, 1999)
Nancy Shefferly (editor), Animal Diversity Web.
Jason Law (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor, instructor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.
uses sound to communicate
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
an animal that mainly eats meat
flesh of dead animals.
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.
ranking system or pecking order among members of a long-term social group, where dominance status affects access to resources or mates
a substance used for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease
humans benefit economically by promoting tourism that focuses on the appreciation of natural areas or animals. Ecotourism implies that there are existing programs that profit from the appreciation of natural areas or animals.
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
parental care is carried out by females
union of egg and spermatozoan
A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.
forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
a species whose presence or absence strongly affects populations of other species in that area such that the extirpation of the keystone species in an area will result in the ultimate extirpation of many more species in that area (Example: sea otter).
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
having more than one female as a mate at one time
Referring to something living or located adjacent to a waterbody (usually, but not always, a river or stream).
an animal that mainly eats dead animals
communicates by producing scents from special gland(s) and placing them on a surface whether others can smell or taste them
scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.
remains in the same area
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
one of the sexes (usually males) has special physical structures used in courting the other sex or fighting the same sex. For example: antlers, elongated tails, special spurs.
associates with others of its species; forms social groups.
uses touch to communicate
Living on the ground.
defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement
the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.
A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.
A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.
A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.
uses sight to communicate
reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.
breeding takes place throughout the year
young are relatively well-developed when born
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