STRIPED HYAENA/Behaviour, Distribution, Habitat, Size, Weight, IUCN stetus



DESCRIPTION: The Striped Hyaena is a large, shaggy, buff-coloured animal that looks like a canid at first appearance. Like all hyaenas, it has a heavyset body balanced on spindly legs of which the forelegs are longer than the hind ones, giving it an ungainly slouched appearance. Similar to the other three bone-  cracking hyaenas globally, it has a thick neck, large head, massive jaws and unique premolar teeth. The buff body has 5–9 black stripes on the flanks, two cheek stripes, and horizontal stripes on the legs. It has coarse, long fur from the shoulder to the hindquarters and the back has a dark crest that can be erected as a threat to make the animal look a third larger than normal. The pelage can vary geographically from a very light buff to grey and sometimes even pale cream. The muzzle and the throat are black. The patch around the throat has dense fur and thick skin.The tail is long and shaggy. There are four toes on each feet bearing non-retractable canid-like claws. Two characteristic hyaenid features  are their anal pouches and their juvenile genital convergences. They have a well- developed anal pouch that can be inverted and this can be visible at times. Juvenile males have smooth and hairless pre-scrotal folds above the scrotum that superficially resemble the labial folds above the vagina of the females. However, this characteristic does not persist in adults. Sexual dimorphism does not exist other than the visible teats in case of pregnant females and the genitalia. The young are pale white, maneless, but with stripes.

BEHAVIOUR: The hyaena is known to paste two different coloured secretions from its anal gland, a white and a black one, on vegetation, which are its primary means of communication. What it is known for, however, is the long, laughing call that ends in a cackle, which is heard at nights in its habitat and has given rise to many superstitions about its quasi-magical prowess.

DISTRIBUTION: Through peninsular India, south of the Himalayas, in arid and semi-arid tracts with the exception of dense forests, true deserts and coasts. Not present in the Western Ghats, or most of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, the North–East and most of West Bengal.

HABITAT: Open scrub and dry thorn forests, often found near human habitation. Avoids true deserts; frequents arid and semi-arid country. Habitat preference is linked to availability of denning sites, which could be caves in rocky terrain, burrows dug by them, or even those by porcupines. Found normally up to 2,500 m in hilly terrain, but in Pakistan has been reported at more than 3,000 m.

Size:  100–115 cm

IUCN  Status:  Near Threatened


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