Brown Hyena

© Karl Svendsen


Brown hyena [Hyaena brunnea]


The brown hyena has a distinct dark brown and black shaggy coat with a long cream-coloured mane that extends from the back of the neck to around its shoulders. The brown hyena stands at a shoulder height of 800 mm and weighs around 40 kg. Their heads and necks are grey, while the legs are covered in brown and grey stripes. Their coats are ideal for blending in the dry savannah grass found in South Africa.

Brown Hyena Diet

The brown hyena is primarily a scavenger. The brown hyena will occasionally kill smaller animals, should it not find a kill to scavenge off. Their jaws and teeth have adapted to break open large bones to easily access the nutritious marrow found inside it. They are also known to eat insects, bird eggs and selected wild fruits.

Brown Hyena Breeding

At birth, the brown hyena has the same coat colours as the adults. The brown hyena has a gestational period of about 90 days and gives birth to litters of between 1 to 4 pups. Brown hyenas have no breeding season and their young are weaned at just over a year. Cubs live in the den for up to 18 months and milk can be supplemented with meat after 3 months. The cubs reach full maturity at 30 months old.

Brown Hyena Behaviour

The brown hyena lives in packs that range from a breeding pair with cubs to groups containing many males and females. The brown hyena is a solitary hunter and prefers to hunt for food at night in the bushveld biome. As they are nocturnal, they are usually found sleeping throughout the day in an abandoned aardvark burrow or under a thick bush.

Where They Are Found

The brown hyena is found to habitat semi-desert, savannah and grassland regions across South Africa. The brown hyena has shown to venture out as far as North-west of Pretoria right up into the Magaliesberg Mountain range. They are also a common sight along the Skeleton Coast region, where they can be seen eating the washed-up detritus from the Atlantic Ocean. They stay clear of areas inhabited by the spotted hyena.