Image from Wildlife Society of India (WSI).

Common Name: Striped Hyena

Scientific Name: Hyaena hyaena

Distribution of Habitat:

Striped hyenas have the largest and diverse geographical range of any member of the hyena family. Their habitat ranges from Tunisia, down to East Africa, along the Arabian Peninsula and into western India.

Because of this large geographical range, striped hyenas are actually divided into 5 insular sub-species that vary in size (Hofer 1998): Hyaena hyaena barbara from North West Africa, H. h. dubbah from North East Africa, H. h. sultana from Arabia, H. h. syriaca from Asia Minor and the Caucasus and H. h. hyaena from India.
The larger striped hyena sub-species is found in H. h. dubbah and H.h. barbara, the smaller species are is H. h. sultana and H. h. syriaca.



Striped hyenas are smaller than both brown spotted hyenas (~25-40 kg). They have longer, pointed ears than spotted hyenas, but have a more blunt muzzle than the brown hyenas (more similar to spotted hyenas). Males are not larger than the females in height, but are longer in body length.

Striped hyenas sport large skulls and necks (to support the skeletal and muscle structure of the head). Like other bone-crushing hyenas, brown hyenas also have very large carnassial molars.
The front feet of brown hyenas are a different size compared to the rear. Striped hyenas have longer fore limbs and shorter back limbs. Like other bone-crushing hyena, this gives them a stamina advantage when tracking prey.


More opportunistic than the brown and spotted hyenas, striped hyenas eat insects, birds, reptiles, small mammals, and carrion.  Striped hyenas are the most active scavengers of any hyena. They will also eat melon, which are high in caloric value, but they do provide the hyena with a water source, trace minerals and vitamin C.

Do they hunt? At times, but small prey only.

Striped hyenas have a different feeding strategy than the spotted, that is similar to the brown hyena. Striped hyenas will move around more frequently in a 24 hour period, acquiring as much food as possible, there is no gorge-fast approach. Striped hyenas will acquire food, consume it, and then move on to the next opportunity. It is smaller meals more frequently than one big meal (the strategy of the spotted hyena).


Striped hyenas are semi-solitary, semi-social creatures. They do not forage in groups but striped hyenas are sometimes seen resting in small groups of 2-3. Males take a more active role in raising cubs by bringing food to the den.

Because striped hyenas do not live in large groups or forage/hunt in groups, they do not have a long-distance call. Their calls rang from whining (cubs to their mothers), growls, giggling when frightened (though not as prominent as the spotted hyena’s) and a high-pitched yell when being chased.


Gestation is ~90 days. Females have a litter of cubs every 24 months which breeding independent of any seasonal change. Females give birth to 2-4 cubs. Weaning age for the cubs is 8-10 months. Cubs are exclusively nursed for the first four weeks of life, after that is when parents start introducing solid food into their diets. Teeth in the cubs erupt after 21 days, shortly after is when parents begin introducing food into the cub’s diet.

Dens for raising cubs in also vary by subspecies. The dens of Central Asian hyenas in the Krakum Desert that surrounds the Caspian Sea were simple ~9 feet in length with narrow openings of 1.5 feet. Dens of Central Asian striped hyenas traveled straight down with no other chambers. Striped hyenas in the Western Arabian Peninsula around have long, complex dens of ~60 feet that contains other chambers. Dens of the hyenas in Western India (Gujarat) have a wider opening than those of Central Asia, dens are 2 feet wide. Western Indian den openings quickly taper to a narrow tunnel that leads to the chamber.



Hyena Species





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