Spotted hyena

Spotted Hyena

A famous laugh
giant panda


Map of Africa
Endangered Status



30 to 32
inches tall at the shoulder
An average refrigerator is 70 inches tall.
Spotted hyena compared in size to a refrigerator
Meat eater

Spotted hyenas eat small mammals, gazelles, antelope, zebras, and ostrich eggs.

savanna, more

Spotted hyenas also make their homes in semi-desert areas, scrubland, and mountains.


Spotted hyena

A lot to say

Have you seen a “laughing” hyena in a cartoon or movie? Although there are 3 kinds of hyenas, only spotted hyenas have a call that sounds like they are laughing. They make that sound when they are excited or nervous. Spotted hyenas make other sounds, too: squealing and groaning to greet each other and “whoop” to call over long distances.

Spotted hyena pair

More on the menu

Most people think hyenas are scavengers only. Spotted hyenas do eat other predators’ leftovers during the day, but they also hunt at night. Hyenas work together in a pack to capture zebras, warthogs, gazelles, and other animals. The bigger the group, the larger the animal they hunt—it takes 10 to 25 hyenas to catch a zebra! When they aren’t hunting, hyenas rest in dens or caves.

A hyena can eat quite a bit at one time. Sometimes, leftovers are buried in a mudhole for a later meal. Spotted hyenas give new meaning to the phrase "lick the platter clean." They eat practically every part of the animal, including skin, hooves, bone, and teeth. Powerful jaws are able to crush bones with ease. Most other predators couldn’t eat those things, even if they tried. There are some items that hyenas can’t digest, such as hair and horns, although they still eat them.