These animals weigh 45-85 kg as adults, depending on sex (males weigh less than females) and capture location (hyaenas in southern Africa are larger than those in other parts of Africa).
Spotted hyaenas are hunters and scavengers and can even chase lions away from their kills.
Spotted hyaenas are intelligent, noisy, and gregarious, living in groups of as few as five or as many as 80 individuals. Spotted hyaenas are highly unusual among mammals because females in this species are socially dominant to males, the reverse of the situation in most mammalian species. This hyaena’s loud, cackling ‘giggle’ vocalization inspired the phrase “laughing like a hyena”. Many beliefs about spotted hyaenas are false: they do not have any magical powers, witches do not ride on their backs and they are not hermaphrodites. They produce unusually small litters relative to dogs or cats; spotted hyaenas give birth to 1 or 2 cubs (very rarely 3) at a time, and the mother typically feeds her young with rich milk for many months, often for over one year.