Although dog-like in appearance, the hyena is more closely related to cats, civets, and genets. The famous chatter they produce actually sounds like a human laughing hysterically. This “laugh” is used during times of nervous excitement or submission to a dominant hyena. Learn more.
The Hyena is the second largest carnivore in Africa, after the Lion. (Well, maybe not this little guy.) They are not related to dogs (or cats, as some think), but rather, to the group of animals that includes the meerkat and mongoose. They are very capable of hunting alone and are formidable when in a pack. Interestingly, females produce higher levels of testosterone, making them not only more aggressive, but larger than males. The genitalia of hyenas looks very similar and at one time zoologists considered them to be hermaphrodites. The alpha female is the largest and best fed pup in the clan. (A group of hyenas is also sometimes called a cackle.) Do they really laugh? The nickname “laughing hyena” comes from the “giggling” sound they sometimes make-often when fighting with other hyenas. I have spent many a night in a tent listening to their more common “oooooh-WHUP” sound, which generally signals good news with a kill. That sound travels very well in the night…right into your bones!!
Feeding Wild Hyenas in Harar, Ethiopia- a story of bravery by Elsh
Hyena man: so you’re gonna take this stick and put it in your mouth and I’ll put a strip of camel meat on it and the Hyena is basically gonna eat it from your mouth.
Elsh: ….wait what? Are you sure about this?.. it won’t see me as the better meal here?
Hyena man: no don’t worry you’ll be fine, I’m one of them, they know me.
Hyena man: You did really great but I’m gonna need you not to show your teeth like that again, they might take it as a sign of aggression and then I can’t really help you.
Elsh: I had to pull my lips back cause I really thought she was gonna eat my face, but okay
*Hyena man breaks the stick in half so it’s shorter, and crowd goes “Ooooo”*
Hyena man: remember just be normal and she won’t hurt you
Hyena man gives me the entire basket of camel meat: here Elsh let her eat straight from the source
Elsh: I can’t believe I’m actually doing this…
Long story short before doing this I really thought I wouldn’t make it out alive but eventually I learned how calm and gentle these Hyenas were they would actually line up to eat and take turns, I did not expect them to be this big though I’m 6’1 205lbs and the alpha female made me look small.