Wildlife TV

Learn interesting and funny plant and animal facts with videos and photos

How do baby Spotted Hyenas survive?

on May 18, 2013

On our previous entry we learned about how baby African elephants (Loxodonta africana) managed to survive in the wild. Today we’re going to talk about another animal that also lives in Africa in a matriarchal society, the Spotted Hyena!


Spotted Hyena Cubs

Even though both Spotted Hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) and African Elephants form a matriarchal society in which females are in charge of the group, they have the exact opposite newborn survival strategy.

As we just saw, African Elephant calves rely on the group to survive, Spotted Hyenas on the other hand are born ready to fight for themselves. They are the only carnivorous mammal born with the eyes already open and the mouth full of teeth ready to kill. And they sure use those to their advantage.

Sibling competition is so strong that newborn hyenas are most likely to be killed by their own siblings than they are by predators. An astonishing 25% of hyena cubs die within their first month due to neonatal siblicide.

Female Spotted Hyenas give birth to between one to four cubs, however the norm is twins. Now here comes the strategy.

If the twins are both males chances are they both survive. In the Spotted Hyena society the females are bigger and extremely more aggressive than males so having a couple of boys is a good way to make sure none of them tries to kill the other one.

However, if one of the cubs is a female and the other one is a male, the female will immediately try to dominate the male. If the male plays a submissive role she will let him live.

But now comes the biggest problem, what if they are both females? Newborn female cubs, full of testosterone with eyes open, 6-7mm canines, and ready to kill. And indeed they do kill. In fact, if both twins are females chances are one of them will be killed by the other, either directly in a fight for dominance, or indirectly by starving as the dominant cub intimidates the submissive so much that she won’t dare approaching the mother to suckle.


Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta) cubs / babies playing with food.

Spotted Hyena cubs competing over food.
Photo Credits

Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta) cub / baby suckling on mother.

Spotted Hyena cub suckling on mother.
Photo Credits









To conclude, spotted hyenas survive in the wild by either kill or submit to the dominant baby and hope that they will let you suckle.

It’s a though start of life!


Do you want to find out how baby rhinoceros and other animals survive?
Check out our “Series” page for the list of “Baby Animals: How do they survive?


Até à próxima!

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