Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Facts About Hyenas

By Alina Bradford, Live Science Contributor | June 9, 2016 11:54pm ET

There are many misconceptions about hyenas. They aren't just scavengers. Not all of them laugh. They aren't wild dogs. They aren't even related to dogs. Here are some facts to clear up these misconceptions.

Size & description
Though many people compare hyenas to dogs, they are actually much more like cats. In fact, they are members of the suborder Feliformia, which is a classification for cat-like carnivores, according to Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS). There are four species in the hyena family, and they vary in size. 

Spotted hyena
The spotted hyena is the largest species, and it grows to 4 to 5.9 feet (1.2 to 1.8 meters) long and 2.5 to 2.6 feet (77 to 81 centimeters) tall from paw to shoulder. They weigh 88 to 190 lbs. (40 to 86 kg). Unlike other species, spotted females are 10 percent heavier than males, according to the San Diego Zoo.

The spotted hyena's coat is sandy, yellowish or gray, according to the Animal Diversity Web (ADW). It has dark brown or black spots over most of the body.

Brown hyena
Brown hyenas are the second largest, ranging from 51 to 63 inches (130 to 160 cm) long and weighing 75 to 160 lbs. (34 to 72.6 kg), according to ADW. Brown hyenas can be distinguished from other hyenas by the long, shaggy hair, which is dark brown or black on the body and tan on the shoulders and neck. Hair on the neck grows to about 12 inches (30.5 cm), in contrast to the short hair on the legs, face and ears. The tail is short and bushy. The forelegs, which are horizontally striped, are much longer and more massively built than the hind legs, giving the brown hyena the appearance of always climbing a hill.

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