Does the hyena have the strongest bite?

We recently had a family stay at Londolozi that had an amazing spotted hyena sighting, they happened upon a den and found pups that were only a few weeks old. This made me wonder about these misunderstood creatures and how often they are put in a very negative light, but for what reason? Personally I’m not the biggest hyena fan and I blame watching The Lion King as a child, but when this family explained the sighting with so much excitement I thought I should definitely give them another look. So I’ve dedicated this week’s blog to hyenas and what makes them special.

waterhyena

A spotted hyena – these are the ones you can find here at Londolozi.
Photographed by James Tyrrell.

One of the first questions that seems to come up with hyenas is about the strength of their bite, does a hyena really have the strongest bite? While I can’t say that it’s the strongest bite of all the animals, it’s definitely extremely strong! Hyena jaws and teeth are specially designed for crushing and breaking bones, they are one of the only animals that eat almost everything of its prey including the bones. Their teeth are especially strong in order to grind bone and their jaws have an extremely strong bite, so strong that they have been known to kill animals with only one bite.

Hyenacubs

A hyena pup and its mother outside the den.
Photographed by James Tyrrell.

Hyenas are often seen in a negative light and I think this is because they are scavengers and mostly steal their food from other predators, but they also play a very important role in the bush. Like vultures, hyenas clean the bush veld of all old rotting carcasses (the dead body of an animal), some predators will only eat fresh meat but hyenas are not fussy at all. So in fact we actually need hyenas to keep the bush veld clean and less smelly!

They are also not as mean or harsh as some may think, the spotted hyena can actually be very social. They often live in groups and all the females in the group help raise the pups in the safety of a den site. They are also very vocal animals communicating with various sounds like whoops, giggles, growls, laughs and whines.

Watch this video of spotted hyena pups playing at a den site, you can see just how caring they can be:

More facts about hyenas:

  • There are three different kinds of hyena, the spotted, striped and brown hyena. This blog was mostly on the spotted hyena as that is the kind we find here at Londolozi. 
  • A group of spotted hyenas is called a clan and is led by the females not the males.
  • Spotted hyena have very good eyesight at night and very sharp hearing!
  • The spotted hyena is the biggest of all three hyenas.
  • Although they are most commonly known as scavengers, hyenas can also hunt and have shown great skill in hunting. They are however extremely intelligent creatures and will always look for an easier way of finding food.
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Two spotted hyena pups waiting for their mother to return to their den.
Photographed by Trevor McCall-Peat.

Hopefully this post has shown a little positive light on the hyena, I know that I definitely look at them differently now. Are there any animals that you think deserve a little bit more positive light shown in their direction? Let me know in the comment section below and I’ll get right on it!

Teacher Emma.


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3 comment on “Does the hyena have the strongest bite?”

    Peter Taylor says:

    The Hyena is one of my favourite animals, they are very family orientated and seldom do you see a dirty one. they are definitely very crafty as visitors to iMpila will testify.
    great looking at your pics and video
    peter

    Teacher Emma says:

    Hi Peter! Im glad you enjoyed the blog, they really are awesome animals and hopefully we can shed some more positive light on them. Have you seen a hyena before? :)

    [...] If you want to learn more cool facts about the hyena, check out our previous blog on them – Does the hyena have the strongest bite? [...]

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