The Hyena Pages

[Spotted hyena, courtesy of Candy Kroupa]

Why a Web site for hyenas?

Wolves have plenty of sites on the Web. Hyenas are at least as interesting as wolves. But in 1995, I looked in vain for hyena info on the Web, so I ended up researching and putting it up myself.

Until the last thirty years, spotted hyenas were misunderstood. Scientists thought they were "cowardly" scavengers (they kill most of their own food, and can take a carcass from a whole pride of lionesses). Male dominance was supposed to be a law of nature (spotted hyenas, like a lot of animals, are female-dominant). They were of little interest to zoologists (actually, they raise interesting, important questions).

For me, spotted hyenas are a bit like Baba Yaga in Russian folklore -- ugly, frightening, powerful, strangely attractive. And like Baba Yaga, the Wild Old Woman or Hag, they have important things to teach us -- about why mammals become social in the first place, the reasons for male and female dominance in different species, even how sex hormones work.

Note to readers: Before you email me your questions, please read the FAQ, check the links to [other sites] and look at some books in a library, such as Walker's Mammals of the World or Grzmek's Animal Encyclopedia. Remember to ask your librarian about the Zoological Index as well, so you can look up scientific papers. In other words, do a little research on your own. I'm not truly a scientifically accredited hyena expert, I just run a Web site on the beasties.