What Do Hyenas Eat?

What do hyenas eat?

Although phylogenetically more closely related to cats and viverrides, in some aspects of behavior and morphology, hyenas resemble canine beasts, such as hunting and feeding. With only four extant species (each in its own genus), it is one of the smallest biological families within the mammalian class. Despite their low diversity, hyenas are a unique and important part of most African ecosystems.

The following AnimalWised explains what eats hyenas and some of their key features.

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As mentioned earlier, there are only 4 species among hyenas that have their own genius. These are:

  • Spotted hyena
  • Brown hyena
  • Striped hyena
  • Aardwolf

The The eating habits of hyenas vary by species. Aardwolves, for example, are insectivores. It feeds on insects and their larvae, mainly termites. They consume termites by licking them from surfaces with a flat, sticky tongue. The tongue of the common wolf has evolved to be strong enough to withstand a strong bite of termites. Aardwolf can fly up to 250,000 termites per night.

Other species of hyenas are carnivoreswhich means they only eat meat. These hyenas have strong and massive jaws with large premolars and stools capable of crushing bones and feeding on carnivores.

Although the remains of other animals are known to feed on them, they are not just scavengers. Hyenas are, in fact experienced hunters. In the next part, we will learn more about their hunting habits and the types of animals they feed on.

What do hyenas eat?  - Hyena diet type

The idea that hyenas are primarily scavengers has become popular, but it’s not entirely true. Although it is able to consume a considerable amount of carcass, Hyenas are also capable of huntingthey attack and kill other animals.

In general, hyenas are highly adaptable and opportunistic animalswhich means they adapt their diet to the prey available in their locality. They can hunt or clean depending on the situation and are able to eat and digest skin, bones and other animal waste.

When hunting, The size of the food often depends on how big the hyena clan isbecause clans work together to shoot down prey. The bigger the animal, the more members the clan must have to kill it successfully. Hyenas usually hide excess food in water holes, because nothing should be wasted. Depending on the species, we can specify a specific prey or food for each species:

Brown hyena (Hyaena brunea)

This species is more of a scavenger and relies on its own developed sense of smell locate the remains of dead animals left to be eaten by other carnivores. If he has the opportunity to take the animal up close, he can do so. The foods that the brown hyena eats include:

  • Gazelles
  • Zebras
  • Hares
  • Jackals
  • Brown fur seal
  • Birds
  • Reptiles
  • Crustaceans
  • Fish
  • Egg
  • Feces of other animals
  • Fruits with a high water content during the dry season

Striped Hyena (hyena)

It is also especially scavengers, including various human wastes, as the ranges of hyenas and humans increasingly overlapped over time. The foods they eat include:

  • Zebras
  • Wildebeest
  • Gazelles
  • Impaly
  • Insect
  • Rabbit
  • Rodents
  • Reptiles
  • Birds

Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta)

This kind they feed on about 70% of the live prey they hunt, which is an important difference from other species. The spotted hyena is the most social of beasts in that it has the largest groups and the most complex social behavior. They can hunt on their own, in small and large groups. They live mainly on:

  • Zebras
  • Wildebeest
  • Gazelles
  • Antelopes
  • Cape buffalo
  • Impala
  • Wild pigs
  • Hares
  • Ostriches
  • Jackals
  • Porcupines
  • Hadi
  • Lions
  • Other hyenas

Aardwolf (cristata proteles)

As mentioned above, this species is an insectivore and feeds mainly on termites of Trinervitermes and Hodotermes groups. They do not destroy termite mounds or consume the entire colony. They ensure that termites can adjust and provide a continuous supply of food. They often remember the location of such nests and return there every few months.

What do hyenas eat?  - What do hyenas eat?

Hyenas and lions have a close ecological relationship. It is common for hyenas to roam lions to eat the remains of animals left behind by lions.

Although adult lions are stronger and larger than hyenas, hyenas usually hunt in groups and can attack a lion that is alone, especially if it is sick or injured.

As mentioned earlier, hyenas are carnivores and scavengers, which means they will not hesitate to eat a lion if the opportunity arises.

Although they don’t do it that often, hyenas can infect humans under certain circumstances. These attacks are rare, but have occurred, mainly due to the growing human population in Africa, which has brought hyenas closer to human settlements.

In addition, if hyenas hit a human corpse, they will eat it. Some African tribes even tend to leave their corpses in areas where hyenas live to feed on them.

Hyenas are known to have a great appetite. It is somewhat difficult to know exactly how many kilos of meat or carcasses a hyena can eat. However, some studies indicate that they may consume up to 30 pounds (about 14 kg) of meat per meal. When these animals have eaten enough and are satisfied, they tend to keep the rest of their food for consumption the next day.

As already mentioned, hyenas are clean eaterswhich means they can consume the whole body of their prey. This includes the skeleton, bones, teeth and horns.

Scavengers play an important role in the life cycle. Thanks to them, organic material can decompose and enrich the soil. They also rid nature of corpses that, if left there, could cause and spread infections. Continue reading this next article to learn more about other scavengers.

What do hyenas eat?  - How many hyenas do they eat?

If you want to read similar articles like What do hyenas eat?we recommend visiting our Healthy Eating category.

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  • National geography. (2010). Spotted Hyena. Available at: https://www.nationalgeographic.es/animales/hiena-spotted

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