The Brown Hyaena is a nocturnal scavenger: it is often killed by lions and spotted hyaenas at kills if it becomes too venturesome, as it is less aggressive than its spotted cousins. It has powerful forequarters and small hindquarters, and can travel great distances in small groups: they have been known to mark out territories as large as 480 square kilometres. Brown hyaenas are solitary foragers, but most of them live in groups which occupy fixed territories. Their anal gland produces two pastes: one being a strong smelling white paste and the other a less smelling black paste. These two convey information relating to the movements of individuals or groups.
It has a powerful build and sensitive hearing, but despite this the brown hyaena is not as adept at killing as the spotted hyaena, and generally confines itself to preying on small mammals, birds and insects.
They are also a lot more rare than spotted hyaenas. Their sense of smell is very well-developed, and they can detect carcasses over long distances. From 2 to 4 young are born.
SIZE: Shoulder height 80 cm, mass (m) 47 kg, (f) 42 kg.
COLOUR: Dark brown coat, coarse hair with a shaggy mane along the spine. Creamy colour around the neck and dark stripes on legs.
POTENTIAL LONGEVITY: 24 years
GESTATION PERIOD: 3 months
MOST LIKE: The Spotted Hyaena, but smaller and less powerfully built and its long brown coat is distinctive.
HABITAT: Semidesert, open scrub plains and dry savanna.