Sunday, June 14, 2009
Posted by Kay Holekamp at 7:51 AM
A hungry adult spotted hyena can consume a LOT of food in a single meal. An adult hyena is shown in the top photo before consuming a meal. An adult female typically weighs about 65 kg (roughly 145 lbs). Although average meal size for spotted hyenas varies across Africa from 0.2 kg to 9 kg, an individual hyena can consume approximately 18 kg of meat and bone in an hour. That's 40 lbs of food, folks. Imagine how you'd feel if you had just consumed 160 Quarter Pounders at one sitting. A bit bloated, right? Well the bottom photo here shows you what a spotted hyena looks like under the same circumstances. Notice that she's still going strong, continuing to feed even though her belly is almost touching the ground. Now you can also imagine how hard it is to determine when a female spotted hyena is pregnant based on her appearance; with her belly size going up and down this much during feeding and fasting, it's very tough to detect the presence of a litter that, at most, will weigh only about 3 kg!
Why eat so much at a single meal that you can barely waddle away afterward? Well, if you're a female spotted hyena, you do this because your ability to produce and support babies is strictly determined by how much food you consume. And you never know when or where your next meal might be coming from. If you were dining at McDonald's and knew you might not be able to eat again for several days, I bet you'd probably try to jam in an extra Quarter Pounders or two yourself.