Hyenas are probably one of the smallest carnivorous mammals. But they have one of the most powerful bite forces. Striped hyenas almost always feed on dead animals however spotted hyenas hunt live animals.
Hyenas evolved in Eurasia around 22 million years ago. There are four living species of hyenas.
They are bone-crushing mammals for they can chew just about anything leaving nothing for other scavengers.
In the prehistoric times, striped and spotted hyenas used to attack and eat humans. It was around 257,000 years ago.
Hyenas eat deer, gazelles, zebras, young hippos, rhino calves, fish, dead birds, and just about any animal that occurs in their habitat. Except for aardwolf which is insectivorous, hyenas do not eat insects. Mammals make up 80% of the hyena’s diet.
Generally hyenas live in dry habitats where annual rainfall occur no greater than 800 mm. Striped and spotted hyenas are quite tough in that they can survive any extreme conditions. They do not however live in cold places.
Depending on the species, hyenas can live as long as 15 – 20 years. The lifespan is fairly greater in captivity.
Despite their medium size, hyenas can take the prey from large predators such as leopards, cheetahs, and even lionesses.
They usually hunt alone. Nearly all hyenas are nocturnal—they travel and hunt at night. They have sharp sense of smell and sight.