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Spotted Hyena

Crocuta crocuta

Did you know?

  • Spotted hyenas are part of the Hyaenidae family, a family they share with three other hyena species.
  • They live in a variety of habitats in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • They have rounded ears, which are unique to other hyenas.
  • They have the strongest bite of any mammal (in comparison to size).
  • A female spotted hyena has two cubs per litter.

Social Structure

A clan of spotted hyenas is made up of related individuals who defend their territory against intruding clans. Each clan creates at least one den, consisting of a series of underground tunnels dug into a mound of high ground. The den is the center of the group's activity and the place where breeding females raise their pups together. Hyenas are matriarchal, and so females tend to be dominant over males. They are also larger and generally more assertive than males.

Opportunistic Predators

Hyenas are predators more often than scavengers. They are expert hunters that travel in packs of 20 or more animals. Hyenas not only prey on almost any animal they can catch, but they also eat carrion, bones, eggs, and animal droppings. What they hunt is most dependent on how many hyenas there are to help in the attack. Lions and humans are their only natural predators.

Threat Level

  • Unknown
  • Common
  • Near Threatened
  • Threatened
  • Endangered
  • Critically Endangered
  • Extinct in the Wild


The Spotted Hyena is widespread and abundant.


Sub-Saharan Africa


Deserts, savannas, bushlands, rocky areas

We care about spotted hyenas

The Saint Louis Zoo supports a pair of spotted hyenas in River's Edge at the Saint Louis Zoo. The Saint Louis Zoo also participates in the Species Survival Plan for spotted hyenas. This is a cooperative breeding program, with a number of zoos working together to ensure the survival of the species. Learn more about the Zoo supporting carnivores in Africa.

The Saint Louis Zoo Center for Conservation of Carnivores in Africa

Find this animal in River's Edge


River's Edge

Take a journey along a mythical waterway through four continents to discover how wildlife, plants and people interact. River's Edge is the Saint Louis Zoo's first immersion exhibit—a lushly planted naturalistic environment showcasing multiple species from around the world.

Explore River's Edge