Latin Name Parahyaena brunnea

Conservation Status Near Threatened

Location Africa

Colour Brown

Length 1.3 m (4.25 ft)

Tail 21 cms (8.5 inches)

Weight 38 - 47 Kgs (84 - 105 lbs)

Life Expectancy

12 Yrs


Main Characteristics

Brown Hyenas have a body length of 1.3 m (4.25 ft), a tail length of 21 cms (8.5 inches) and they weigh between 38 and 47 kgs (84 - 105 lbs). Their shaggy coat is dark brown in colour with pale brown colouring on their neck and banding on their legs. 

They have a short, broad muzzle and pointed ears that are set high on their head. Their front legs are longer than their hind which gives their back a sloping appearance and they have powerful jaws with strong teeth.

Brown Hyenas are active at night and they are generally quiet, but during conflict they will use vocalizations to communicate with other clan members.


Brown Hyenas are found in the scrublands, savannahs, grasslands and semi-deserts of southern Africa. They venture further into deserts than any other species of hyena. 

They live in mixed sex clans containing 4 - 15 members. There is a hierarchy in each clan which is maintained by ritualized forms of aggression, such as neck biting. Movement between clans is common and all males usually leave their natal clan. 

The clan occupy and defend a territory between 233 and 466 sq kms (90 - 180 sq miles). Members of the clan mark their territory with secretions from their anal glands. 


Brown Hyenas mainly feed on carrion but they will also catch live prey such as small mammals, fish, birds and insects. They also supplement their diet with fruit, vegetables and eggs. 

Unlike spotted hyenas, Brown Hyenas do not hunt in groups. They also regularly cache surplus food which is usually consumed the following night. 


Brown Hyenas do not have a breeding season and breeding within the clan is unsynchronized, therefore a clan can contain young of assorted ages. Females tend to mate with nomadic males rather than those within the clan.

After a gestation period of approximately 90 days, 1 - 4 cubs are born in a natal den. When the cubs reach 3 months old they begin to eat solid food and their mother moves them to the communal den. In the communal den the cubs are fed by any lactating female and food is brought to the den by their mother as well as other members of the clan. 

When they cubs reach 15 months old they are weaned and they mature between 2 and 3 years of age. Young males usually leave but females remain with their natal clan. 


Predators of Brown Hyenas include humans and lions. 


There are no subspecies of Brown Hyena.

Interesting Facts

Brown Hyenas belong to the Hyaenidae family. 

Similar Animals

Spotted Hyena
Striped Hyena