Hyenas live throughout the central region of Africa. They adapt to a wide array of habitats, including savannas, forests and desserts. Some are even found in mountainous regions. As human populations increase, humans have increased contact with hyenas, as they are forced to live in closer proximity to human settlements than they once did.
Hyenas are carnivorous mammals that feed mostly on carcasses left behind by predators such as tigers. They are ferocious animals, and they sometimes drive off much larger predators, such as lions and or leopards, in order to steal their prey. Hyenas also hunt and kill small animals, such as lizards and birds. In some areas, hyenas are seen as pests because they prey on livestock and raid human food stores. Hyenas have been known to attack humans in some areas.
There are three species of hyenas: spotted, striped and brown. Spotted hyenas are the largest and most well-known. All three species appear similar to small dogs, with large eyes and pointed ears set on the tops of their heads. The average hyena is between 34 and 59 inches long, not including its tail. They typically weigh between 110 and 190 pounds. Genetically, hyenas are more closely related to cats than to dogs.