Also called the Barbary hyena, the striped hyena is a close relative of the brown
hyena of southern Africa. It is found throughout northern and eastern Africa, Arabia, Asia Minor, and India. Hyenas are sometimes
thought to be members of the dog family, but are very unique creatures having their own family, Hyaenidae. They have broad heads
with dark eyes, thick muzzles, and large, pointed ears. The coat varies in color, from gray to light brown with black stripes. Their legs
also have stripes, and the front legs are longer than the hind legs. Striped hyenas also possess a mane of long hair
that can be raised making them appear much larger than their actual size. This deceptive behavior can help with intimidatiion
during confrontations or when they are felt threatened. Adults reach about three to four feet in head and body length, their fluffy
tails grow over 12 inches, and they
may weigh between 55 and 121 lbs. Males and females are similar in appearance, but females are slightly larger.
Striped hyenas are found in savannas, thorn bushes, and stony desert regions, and they prefer to
remain within six miles of a water source. They are not as social as the brown hyena and are sometimes
found alone or only in small groups with one dominant female. They are mainly active at night, and prefer to feed on dead animals killed by other predators. They also eat insects, reptiles, small mammals, eggs, and even fruit and vegetables. Mating can occur at any time of the year, and female gives birth to two to four young after a gestation period of three months.
This species is threatened by loss of habitat and hunting. Also, striped hyenas are known to kill humans (especially children) and livestock and are often trapped or killed. They are also hunted for their body parts which are used in medicine. The North Africa and Arabia populations may become extinct in the near future. Many striped hyenas can be found in zoos.