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Brown Hyaena: Physical Description

Comparison of human and brown hyaena size

This medium-sized, dog-like animal has long forelegs and well developed forequarters, but weak hindquarters and a sloping back. The pelage is long, shaggy and dark brown to black except around the neck and shoulders, which are white. The underparts are light coloured, and the lower forefeet and hindfeet have white stripes. The ears are long and pointed. Adults usually weigh around 40 kg (28-47 kg) (Mills 1982a). There is little difference in size or coloration between the sexes, with males being just slightly larger than females. On average males weigh 43.7 kg, whereas females weigh 40.2 kg (Mills 1990; Skinner 1976; Skinner & Ilani 1979). Exceptionally large brown hyaenas include a female from the Eastern Cape, South Africa which was recorded to have weighed 67.6 kg (P. Swanepoel pers. comm.) and two of unrecorded sex from the Eastern Transvaal Lowveld, which weighed 72.6 and 59.9 kg (Roberts 1954). Head to tail the brown hyaena measures 1.4 m (1.26-1.61 m) and stands 0.79 m (0.72-0.88 m) at the shoulder. Like striped and spotted hyaenas, brown hyaenas have massive jaws and well-developed cheek teeth specialized for crushing bone.