Lions Gawk at the Strange Sight of a Balding Hyena

Written by Sharon Parry
Updated: October 20, 2023
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This watering hole in Botswana has attracted a few animals. A family of lions have arrived to take a drink but are a bit puzzled about what they have found there. The puzzled felines gather around a brown hyena. They can’t quite work out what is going on with this guy, he seems to have a wild, fluffy brown coat but he’s bald in patches! The male lion soon chills out and has a nap but the rest of the family continue to pace around the hyena.

Meanwhile, this scraggly visitor doesn’t seem to be at all worried about the presence of the larger predators.

Watch the Incredible Footage Below

What Do Brown Hyenas Normally Look Like?

The strange-looking creature that is causing so much concern amongst the lions is a brown hyena. Their scientific name is Hyaena brunnea and they are also sometimes called strandwolves.

It would be fair to say that they are probably not the best-looking animals in the habitat! They are a medium to large size – weighing a maximum of about 90 pounds which makes them slightly smaller than the spotted hyenas. As is the case with other hyena species, their front legs are a lot longer and more strongly built than their hind legs. This makes them look as if they are continually walking uphill. To make them look even more strange, the front feet are noticeably bigger than their hind feet.

Another distinguishing, and not necessarily attractive, feature is their shaggy long coat. As their name suggests, this is dark brown but it can be black. The hairs can be quite long –  some can reach 12 inches in length! When they feel threatened, the hairs can become erect to make them look bigger. The problem is that some of these long hairs can get pulled out leaving bald patches.

Brown hyena

Brown hyenas have a long straggly coat.

©Johan Swanepoel/

Do Lions Hunt Hyenas?

As we can see in this clip, most of the time lions do not hunt hyenas. However, there have been occasions where brown hyenas have been hunted by both spotted hyenas and lions. After all, lions are carnivores and generalist hunters so if they are very hungry, they will not be too fussy!

Brown hyenas are also carnivores but their primary source of food is carrion. They commonly scavenge the carcasses of kills made by larger carnivores and that includes lions. Therefore, it is worth this brown hyena putting up with some dirty looks!

The photo featured at the top of this post is © EcoPrint/

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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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