Spotted Hyena Pups, Elephant Plains, Sabi Sands, South Africa
The spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta), also known as the laughing hyena, is the most social of the Carnivora with large group sizes and the most complex social behaviour. The society is matriarchal; females are larger than males, and dominate them. Openly competitive, females provide only for their own cubs rather than assist each other, and males display no paternal care. The average litter consists of two cubs. Females are very protective of their cubs, and will not tolerate other adults, particularly males, approaching them. Cubs are born with soft, brownish black hair, weigh 1.5 kg on average and unique among carnivores with their eyes open. Cubs will attack each other shortly after birth and can result in the death of the weaker cub. This neonatal siblicide kills an estimated 25% of all hyenas in their first month.
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