Brown Hyaena Facts

The Brown Hyaena, also known as Hyaena brunnea or strandwolf, is known for having a dirty look. It has a distinct appearance compared to other hyena species, possessing pointed ears and long scruffy coat. They are also known for their unmistakable howl, which sounds like a hysterical human laugh. It has a large head, buff shoulders, and a scruffy brown fur coat. It also has long, fuzzy hair on their neck, shoulders, and back and when agitated, it tends to raise it. Brown Hyaenas are aggressive animals of the wild.

Its eight levels of scientific classification are as follows:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class:  Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Suborder: Feliformia

Family: Hyaenidae

Genus:  Hyaena

Species:  H. Brunnea

The physical description of a Brown Hyaena

The Brown Hyaenas are carnivores with an average weight of 34.2kg to 72.6kgs. Their body length ranges from 130cm to 160cm. The most distinct feature of Brown Hyaenas from other family members is their long shaggy hair, which is usually dark brown to black on the body and tan color on the shoulders and neck. Strands of hair that can be seen on the neck and back can measure up to 30.5 cm. When it comes to their hair in the face, ears, and legs, it is shorter and horizontally striped. They also have large and pointed ears, and when it comes to their tail, it is usually short and bushy with the same colors as their body.

The distribution and habitat of Brown Hyaena

They live in the southern regions of Africa, specifically in Angola, Namibia, Botswana, south and western Zimbabwe, and southern Mozambique. They can also be seen in the south part of the Kalahari Desert and in the coastal areas of southwest Africa, where the largest population of Brown Hyaenas reside. These animals inhabit semi-desert and desert areas, open woodlands savannas, and even in open scrublands. They can survive near urban areas, but they need some cover where they can relax during daylight hours, like a bush or in rocky areas.

They are known for their nocturnal behavior, and during the day, Brown Hyaenas sleep under cover of bushes, trees, or rocks to avoid being overheated. Adult Brown Hyaenas hunt on their own, following trails they’ve used before that have been scent-marked. This species can survive either nomadically or within a clan. About one-third of males are nomads, leaving their birth clan, and assumed to be searching for a new clan to become the alpha male. On the other hand, female Brown Hyaenas are sometimes nomadic, but this can only be possible if there are no cubs to take good care of.

These animals defecate in their lavatory sites throughout their territory, mostly near their den and other significant locations such as killing sites and territorial areas. These sites are mainly used for communication between members of a clan.

Ecology of Brown Hyaena

As scavengers, the Brown Hyaenas play an essential role in removing the remains of dead animals from its habitat. It serves as breeding grounds for many diseases or viruses if left to decay. Brown Hyaenas also help to regulate black-backed jackal and South African fur seal populations through predation. They also disperse seeds from tsama melons, gemsbok melons, and hookeri melons at their defecation areas.

The Brown Hyaena’s behavior and communication habits

Brown Hyaenas typically mate during the African dry season from May to August, according to their courtship system that lasts from 3 to 6 nights. They have two complex mating systems. First is a clan-based polygynous system, which only happens when the clan’s alpha male is a non-related individual from another clan. The second mating system consists of sexually flexible clan females mating with one or more nomadic Brown Hyaenas. Females are expected to mate occasionally with as many as four different male Brown Hyaenas.

The diet of a Brown Hyaena

When it comes to their diet, Brown Hyaenas are primarily scavengers of carcasses killed by larger predators such as lions, cheetahs, and wild dogs. They also feed on rodents, insects, eggs, fruit, and fungi. They possess an extraordinary sense of smell that can locate carcasses kilometers away. They are aggressive scavengers, and they frequently hunt for black-backed jackals, cheetahs, and leopards.