Fun Brown Hyena Facts For Kids

Akinwalere Olaleye
Jan 11, 2023 By Akinwalere Olaleye
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fact-checked by Yashvee Patel
Read these brown hyena facts to learn more about this animal.

The brown hyena, Hyaena brunnea, or Parahyaena brunnea as it is scientifically known is the second largest of the hyena species after spotted hyenas. The brown hyena diet is primarily based on carcasses of dead animals but it sometimes also known to eat live prey such as birds and small mammals.

These are dominant and large carnivores in the Kalahari desert and are found in South Africa. The habitat of these animals is arid regions and grasslands and scrublands in South Africa.

These hyenas do not have a mating or breeding season and often mate from May-August. Cubs are born in a communal den in remote places and the hyena cubs are born with their eyes closed and the young leave their den when they are around 18 months old.

They have long and shaggy coats or hair and pointed ears. The brown hyena skull is larger than other carnivores or animals.

The brown hyena call includes whines and growls.

Brown hyena sound ranges for various purposes such as ordering young cubs into the den. The clans of these animals have 4-15 mixed-sex individuals.

Young males or cubs join other groups or clans when they reach adulthood. It is believed that the clan of these animals is dominated by females or is female-centric.

The behavior of Parahyaena brunnea or Hyaena brunnea tends to be aggressive when in confrontation and they are known to challenge other animals for food. This animal is quite fascinating to know about and if you are interested, read about plains zebra and striped hyena, too.

Brown Hyena Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a brown hyena?

The brown hyena is a type of hyena.

What class of animal does a brown hyena belong to?

The brown hyena belongs to the class of mammals.

How many brown hyenas are there in the world?

The global estimation of the number of brown hyenas in the world is 4000-10000, according to IUCN.

Where does a brown hyena live?

This species of hyena are only found in desert regions of South Africa.

What is a brown hyena's habitat?

The brown hyena habitat includes grasslands, scrublands, savannahs, and semi-deserts regions. They prefer rocky, mountainous areas for shade.

Who do brown hyenas live with?

Brown hyenas are believed to be solitary animals but sometimes are seen in clans with around 4-15 individuals.

How long does a brown hyena live?

The lifespan of the brown hyena ranges from 12-15 years.

How do they reproduce?

Brown hyenas do not have a breeding or mating season, they mate generally from May to August. Males and females in the same clan do not mate with each other, females mate with nomadic males.

Females hyenas are polyestrous and produce their first litter when they are two years old. Females give birth in dens hidden in remote sand dunes. The gestation period lasts for about three months.

A brown hyena cub is born with eyes closed and it opens them after eight days and leaves its dens after 18 months. These hyenas reach full size at about 30 months.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of brown hyenas is Near Threatened because of overhunting by humans and predators like lions and loss of habitat.

Brown Hyena Fun Facts

What do brown hyenas look like?

The brown hyena is the second largest species of hyena after spotted hyenas. Like other hyena species, the forelegs of this animal are longer and built more than the hind legs.

This feature makes them appear constantly walking uphill. The chest, skull, head, and shoulders are strongly or heavily built.

The teeth of this animal are stronger than other carnivores. To identify this hyena from others, look for long, shaggy hair which ranges from dark brown to black and tan on shoulders and neck.

The hair on the face, ears, and legs is shorter and horizontally striped. This hyena has erect, large, and pointed ears and the tail is relatively short and bushy and has almost the same color as the body.

How cute are they?

Brown hyenas are not considered cute animals by some, although as they are dog-like, some may find them endearing.

How do they communicate?

These hyenas have a well-developed sense of smell and a thorough examination of the neck, head, back and anal gland takes place. These scent markings are important for marking territories and this helps in communicating important information among clan members without physical interaction.

These scents help in hyenas knowing if any particular has been already searched for food and about territorial boundaries. Visual displays are also used, such as when the cubs push the female mammary glands with their front paws to express their want to suckle.

Vocal communication includes whines and squeals as a warning about predators approaching. A slightly quiet call is used to order cubs into the den and deep growls sometimes means meeting between rivals.

How big is a brown hyena?

Brown hyenas are around 27-31 in (700-800 mm) tall and their length ranges from 34-55 in (860-1400 mm). The weight of these hyenas ranges from 84-97 lb (38-44 kg).

How fast can a brown hyena run?

Brown hyenas can reach a speed of 50 mph (80 kph).

How much does a brown hyena weigh?

Female hyenas can weigh up to 84-88 lb (38-40 kg) and male hyenas weigh around 88-97 lb (40-44 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names for males and females of these species.

What would you call a baby brown hyena?

A baby brown hyena is called a cub.

What do they eat?

These hyenas are highly opportunistic feeders and they primarily scavenge for carrion and use their sense of smell to find carcasses. While these animals are known not to catch live prey, when an opportunity arises, they prey on small mammals or birds in short distances.

Their diet varies from region to region, for instance, the diet of inland hyenas is composed of remains from the kill of large carnivores like African lions and leopards. The most commonly consumed animals include springbok, springhare, gemsbok, and Burchell's zebra.

Hyenas living near the Skeleton's coast in western Namibia eat black-backed jackals and south African fur seal pups. The diet also includes birds like crowned plover and helmeted guineafowl in both regions.

Are they dangerous?

Hyenas are considered to be dangerous but less dangerous as compared to other big cats.  

Would they make a good pet?

Brown hyenas are wild and can be tamed but they cannot be kept as pets. These are large animals and require a lot of care and regular enrichment. The amount of meat required to feed the hyenas is also too much.

Did you know...

The brown hyena is the second biggest hyena after spotted hyenas.

Brown hyenas consume a lot of tsama melon, hookeri melon, and gemsbok melon as supplements or alternate for freshwater during the dry season. This helps the hyena to live in arid regions longer than their relatives, the spotted hyena.

These hyenas in some areas wander for about 30 km a night for food.

When in a fight or confrontation, these hyenas raise their long brown mane and fluff out their creamy neck ruff in order to look big and scary. These features can get torn off or damaged during fights.

This species can survive on the edge of suburbia. One may occasionally find it in Magaliesburg hills, north of Pretoria.

The brown hyena, being the rarest species, is commonly mistaken for the African Wild Dog because of its long shaggy coat, striped legs, and white marks.

These animals are more closely related to mongooses instead of canines.

These hyenas are aggressive and confrontational and do not get scared of confronting or challenging lions and leopards for food.

These hyenas have strong and powerful jaws and larger skulls compared to their relatives and thus, they can grind through the harder bones. These hyenas have the ability to eat an entire zebra in half an hour.

Hyenas have a large frontal cortex and have shown more advanced problem-solving abilities and better social skills than a chimpanzee.

Female hyenas have only two nipples and thus, the cubs compete for food often leading to the death of a cub or two due to starvation; it is believed that the larger the litter size, the more brutal the competition is.

Brown hyenas are considered to be quieter than spotted hyenas and cannot swim, unlike the spotted ones.

What is another name for a brown hyena?

The brown hyena is also called an Afrikaans Strandwolf (beach dog) because of its habit of combing the shoreline for dead seals and other dead animals.

How do brown hyenas mark their territory?

These hyenas are known to mark their territory by scent marking, where they frequently paste the anal scent gland secretions which are of two types on the vegetation within the territory. They are also sometimes known to put grass around. Whereas male hyenas do not leave their natal clan for long periods.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including mongoose or African wild dog.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our hyena coloring pages.

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Written by Akinwalere Olaleye

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

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Akinwalere OlaleyeBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

As a highly motivated, detail-oriented, and energetic individual, Olaleye's expertise lies in administrative and management operations. With extensive knowledge as an Editor and Communications Analyst, Olaleye excels in editing, writing, and media relations. Her commitment to upholding professional ethics and driving organizational growth sets her apart. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Benin, Edo State. 

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Fact-checked by Yashvee Patel

Bachelor of Business Management

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Yashvee PatelBachelor of Business Management

Yashvee has won awards for both her writing and badminton skills. She holds a business administration honors degree and has previously interned with social media clients and worked on content for an international student festival. Yashvee has excelled in academic competitions, ranking in the top 100 in the Unified International English Olympiad and placing second in an essay-writing competition. Additionally, she has won the inter-school singles badminton title for two consecutive years.

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