The spotted hyaena is an endurance hunter and has adapted longer front legs than hind legs and a long, muscular neck in order to carry prey great distances while conserving energy.
The spotted hyaena uses its keen senses of sight, hearing, and smell to hunt live prey and to detect carrion from afar. Typically, clans split up into hunting groups of two to five individuals, although zebra are hunted in larger groups.
The spotted hyaena is an endurance hunter and can run or lope over great distances in search for prey. They often chase their prey long distances at speeds up to 60 kilometers per hour. A chase in the Kalahari once lasted 24 kilometers before the prey, a common eland (Tragelaphus oryx), was captured.
The spotted hyaena is strongly built with a massive neck and large head. The front legs are longer than the hind legs, which gives the back of the hyaena a slightly odd, downward slope. The hyaena’s relatively short hind legs and long neck are perfect adaptations to the loping locomotion because they minimize its energetic costs. Its long, muscular neck further enables it to carry heavy prey away from other hyaenas and lions (Panthera leo), or to bring food to their cubs at the communal den.
• Image | © Tambako The Jaguar, Some Rights Reserved (CC BY-ND 2.0)
• Sources | (Bohm & Hofer, 1998; Di Silvestre, Novelli, Bogliani, 2000; Höner, 2015; Höner, Wachter, Hofer, & East, 2003; Kingdon, 1977; Kruuk, 1972; Law, 2004; Mills & Hes, 1997; Nowak, 1999)