One of the most misunderstood animals, the spotted hyaena has a reputation as being sly and cowardly, but is in fact fascinating and intelligent with a remarkable social system.
In appearance the spotted hyaena is dog-like, with high shoulders and powerful forequarters sloping down to the hindquarters. Its coarse, short hair is sandy, ginger, dull grey or brown, and it gets its name from the dark spots on the back, flanks, rump and legs, which fade with age. A short mane ends just behind the shoulders, and the short, brown tail has a black, bushy tip .
The spotted hyaena is the second largest carnivore in Africa after the lion, and possesses incredibly strong jaws and teeth, enabling it to crush heavy bones to obtain the nutritious marrow within. Female spotted hyaenas can be up to 14 percent heavier than males.