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Thursday, April 07, 2005

Born Fighting... 

KT and I love to watch animal shows. Sometimes, you already know some stuff about certain animals because there are usually many shows about a particular animal, such as the crocodile/alligator. Thanks to Steve Irwin, you can be an expert on freaky creatures. However, sometimes, new information will come up that have never been shown or have recently been discovered.

Now, I love to watch shows about big cats: lions, tigers, cheetahs, leopards and the like. Frequently shown along the cats are the hyenas. They're barbaric and scary as well. Ugh, I HATE them things. Now, the lions and hyenas are sworn enemies. Since I'm a Leo...that must be why I hate the hyenas! They will kill each other if given the chance. You'll find me whooping for the lion or the pride when a hyena is killed by one.

Anyways, last night, KT was watching this show, The Most Extreme, that ranks animals in various aspects. This one was in regards to births and babies. I was trying to read a book for class but found myself glancing from time to time different facts about certain baby animals. I learned something new about baby hyenas.

Like the lionesses and elephants, hyenas (except adult males) are raised among the community of females. Of course, matriarchical dominance occurs. Anyways, what's interesting about baby hyenas is when they're born, their eyes are already open and they already have fully formed teeth. What's even more interesting is that hyena cubs are born fighting with each other, especially the females. They're one of the few animals to perform siblicide.

Anyways, I'm gonna paste an excerpt from a site.


Reproduction and Life Cycle

Mating is non seasonal and can occur at any time during the year. Pairs do not mate for life; females mate to any wandering male who isn't a member of their own clan. After a gestation period of four months (98-110 days), the female gives birth to one to four all black two pound cubs through her penis-like clitoris. The clitoris usually ruptures during birth, creating a large gaping wound that can take weeks to heal. The cubs are born fully developed, due to the unusually long gestation period. Their eyes are open, they have fully formed teeth, and they are very active.

The social life of spotted hyenas is centered around a communal den. These dens are not dug by the hyenas themselves, but are abandoned burrows of other species. The dens are very small, and only allow juvenile hyenas, but not adults, to enter. Cubs can be born either at the communal den or in a private den elsewhere and moved to the communal den later. Unlike other social carnivores, the dominant female is not the only one who breeds. However, lower ranking females sometimes permanently use dens further away from the main communal den. Rare instances of the dominant female killing subordinant female's cubs has been recorded. Each female nurses and rears her own cubs, and will not nurse a cub that is not her own.

Spotted hyenas are one of the few animals in which the young perform siblicide. Beginning only hours after birth, siblings of the same sex (usually they are both female) battle for dominance, biting each other and grabbing each other by the neck and shaking each other like two fighting adults. The one that wins (firstborn has an advantage) keeps the other from nursing until it weakens and dies. Because fighting occurs in the cubs' narrow tunnels, mothers are powerless to intervene. This sibling rivalry kills an estimated 25% of all hyenas in their first month. The surviving male grows faster and is likelier to achieve reproductive dominance; the surviving female eliminates a rival for dominance in her natal clan. There is no reproductive competition between siblings of opposite sex and consequently no killing.

Lactation period ranges from 6 to 12 months and each female suckles only her own cubs. Spotted hyena milk is very rich, having the highest protein content (14.9%) of any terrestrial carnivore, and the fat content (14.1%) is second only to the polar bear. Cubs of alpha female go to nearby kills and begin eating meat as early as 3 months, 4 to 5 months earlier than other offspring. However, most hyenas are not fully weaned until they are 14-18 months of age. Yearlings tag along on hunts but rarely become competent hunters before 1.5 years. Females usually stay with their natal clan, but males disperse when they reach 2 years old.

The male rarely participates in parental care, but if he is around when the cubs are growing, he may occasionally play with and chase them. Usually female cubs will stay with their mother in the clan and males will leave the clan in search of a mate.


For further reading you can go to this site here.

One more fact that's not covered here. The mother hyena takes over the roles of a referee. She will watch her cubs fight each other and often have to pull one out of the fight. But the cubs resume fighting and she'll pull the other one out. Yet, the cubs still continue to fight.

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Anyways, they may be cute as babies but they sure are ugly when they're adults. Ugh!

ta ta...