A spotted hyena in the African Savanna

Hyenas, specifically spotted hyenas, are the primary antagonists in The Lion King 1½ and The Lion Guard, as well as the secondary antagonists in The Lion King and The Lion King's Timon and Pumbaa.


The hyenas in The Lion King franchise are light brown or ashy gray in color, though real spotted hyenas do not appear in shades of gray. They have pale underbellies, black paws, black outer ears, black tails, and may have coarse, black manes. They bear spots and/or stripes along their shoulders and/or backs. Most have rounded ears like real spotted hyenas, though some have pointed ears or occasionally pointed ears, those being Shenzi, Banzai, Ed, Janja, and most of the hyenas in The Lion King. They have short, rather scruffy tails.


Spotted Hyenas

Spotted hyenas are fierce, intelligent animals that live in groups known as clans, in which females are larger than the males and dominant to them. Even the lowest-ranking female in the clan outranks the highest-ranking male. The cubs of high-ranking females are more aggressive than those of lower-ranking females- the cubs inherit the ranks of their parents, though cub rank does not affect the mortality rate. The clans live in a fission-fusion society, and can consist of 90 hyenas.

While some hyena species are scavengers, spotted hyenas primarily hunt for their prey. These hyenas have extremely strong jaws and digestive systems, allowing them to feed on even the toughest parts of their prey, such as the bones and hooves. Over 75% of hunts are carried out by single hyenas, though zebras are usually hunted in groups.

Cubs are usually born in litters of two. Of carnivorous animals, spotted hyena cubs are the largest relative to the weight of their mother, which often makes birth difficult for the females. The cubs are born with their eyes open and full sets of teeth, and may attack each other shortly after birth. In this case, they will fight until the weaker perishes. Males do not raise the litter, which nurse from their mother for over a year. Cannibalism has occurred in the species, with adult hyenas devouring the young ones.

Spotted hyenas are well-known for the "giggling" sound that they produce, a noise remarkably similar to human laughter. In reality, this call is not emitted out of amusement, but as a result of stress of fear. Hyenas have been observed "laughing" as they are attacked or chased from a kill. When actually happy, hyenas may produce a "ka" sound.

Striped Hyenas

Striped hyenas are hyenas that primarily live alone or in pairs, though they will sometimes form family groups. They scavenge for their meals, targeting decomposing carcasses. Unlike spotted hyenas, males and females both take part in the raising of cubs.

Brown Hyenas

Brown hyenas are the rarest species of hyena. Similar to spotted hyenas, these hyenas live in clans, however; their social groups are more similar to those of wolves', being families with a dominant male and a dominant female. They do not mate with each other, with females instead mating with nomadic males at a nonspecific time. Though the alpha female is usually the only hyena in the clan to breed, if multiple cubs are born into the clan the mothers will nurse each other's young.

Like striped hyenas, brown hyenas are scavengers that feed primarily on carrion. They have a keen sense of smell they use to locate food.

Fanon Hyenas on the Wiki

All fanon hyenas on the wiki can be found here.

Appearances in Fanfictions

A list of fanfictions in which hyenas appears that are on this wiki. If your fanfiction includes hyenas, add it to this list.



  • Originally, Scar's henchmen were going to be Cape dogs. They were later replaced by spotted hyenas.
  • Though hyenas make noises similar to those of dogs in The Lion King franchise(with their exception of their laughter and voices), hyenas are actually more closely related to cats than dogs.
  • In reality, female hyenas are the leaders of their clans, but in The Lion Guard, a male named Janja is the leader of his clan. Additionally, a male hyena from a German audiobook, Fisi, is the leader of his.

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