Striped Hyena

The striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena) is closely related to the brown hyena. It lives in northern Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan and western India. It is extinct in Europe, but can occasionally be spotted in Anatolia, Turkey. Striped hyenas are largely scavengers, but will also eat small animals, fruit and insects. They are nomadic, moving from water hole to water hole, but never straying more than 6 miles from one. Striped hyenas hunt in solitude but do congregate in small family groups. Like many other animals of hot climates, their ears radiate heat.

The striped hyena is generally considered solitary, but has some social organization. It forages individually and is rarely seen in groups. It does, however, associate in small family groups at the den. The striped hyena lives in the tropical savanna, grasslands, Semi-desert, scrub forest, and woodland.


The striped hyena is grayish-brown all over, with black stripes on their legs, torso, head and back. Their muzzle and ears are entirely black. They have a medium sized mane on their neck and shoulders. The striped hyena can erect the long hair on its mane and appear 38% bigger, which it does when it feels threatened. The striped hyena has a life span 10 to 12 years, but can live longer than this when kept in captivity.

It is a large, powerful animal. The striped hyena is covered in pale tan to grayish fur, which is usually quite shaggy. Black stripes slide down its sides in a vertical arrangement, and the muzzle/face is usually dark with a black throat patch on the underside of the neck. From the nape of its neck down to the rump, a thick, erectile mane covers the back. This mane can be raised to make the hyena look quite large, and is used in displays against other striped hyenas. Striped hyenas frequently grab and shake each other by the neck in mock fighting rituals. The legs are long, and also striped. The body and neck are thick and heavy-set. The tail is fluffy and reaches the hocks.

Striped hyenas weigh from 57 to 90 pounds (26 to 41 kg). Length is about 4 to 5 feet (1.2 to 1.45m) from head to tail, and they stand about 2.2 to 2.5 feet (66 to 75cm) tall at the shoulder. There is not much difference between the sizes of the male and female.


They range from Morocco and Senegal to Tanzania. They are found across Asia Minor, the Arabian Peninsula, all the way to Iran, Pakistan and even into Eastern India as well as southern India. Striped hyenas inhabit open country, as well as the forests of India and the seashore. They scavenge on animals that wash up from the sea. The hyenas are mainly active at night, resting by day under protruding rocks. Prey includes mammalian carrion, as well as the goats, sheep, donkeys, and horses of northern herdsmen. They will also eat insects, small animals such as mice, and fruit. Indeed, they often raid melon patches in Israel, bringing them into conflict with farmers.

Threats in the wild

While the striped hyena has no natural predators, it does often come into conflict with men. Striped hyenas have been known to kill human beings, especially children. They are often poisoned and trapped for preying on livestock or raiding farms. Some of their body parts are also believed to have medicinal value. Striped hyenas have also become endangered through habitat loss.