Monday, February 23, 2015

What happens when you can't use the spots?

Spots are the most common way to identify the hyenas we study. Each RA uses the spots on these animals to create specific patterns and shapes. There are circumstances however, when spots are not very useful. We often see hyenas muddy, obese, and bloody. These conditions distort the spots and make our job a bit more taxing.  Bushes are another foe of patterns and shapes. The hyenas love to rest near shrubs and in thickets. These bushes cover the hyena leaving only a portion of its body visible, such as an ear or leg. All of these scenarios make it difficult to find the specific patterns and shapes that are key to identifying it.

It is times like these when you need to use something else to identify a hyena. Many of our hyenas have distinguishing marks or other physical features that set them apart from the rest.


Snaggletooth's name gives a big hint as to what her physical feature is. She has a tooth that extends outward on the right side of her mouth. All you need to do is see her face to figure out who she is.


Roswell is one of our immigrant males, you may recognize him from one of my previous posts. Roswell’s left ear is his signature trademark. Roswell is often found resting near the den charming all the females with his lady-killer looks.

There are many ways to recognize Yogurt. She is one of our spookiest hyenas. Once the car gets within 20 meters of Yogurt she takes off. Chances are that if you start driving towards a hyena and she runs away you’ve found Yogurt. Yogurt is also almost always obese. My favorite feature of Yogurt however is her extremely long neck.


Harpy is one of the sweetest hyenas in Talek West.  She is often seen in play with cubs or nursing the newest edition to her family, Unagi. Harpy has a goiter on the side of her neck that helps her stand out from the rest. There are many hypotheses as to what caused this goiter. What’s your best guess?


Alice is one of the oldest hyenas in Talek West. We don’t see her very often but when we do it is hard to mistake her for anyone else. Alice has what we refer to as elf ears. The top of her ears scoop down which causes them to have an elf-like shape.

1 comment:

dee said...

Loved the post. A vet who visited us last year thought the "goiter" might actually be caused by a piece of bone that may have lodged in her cheek. It would be worth looking for should she ever need to be tranquilized for a collar or some other purpose.

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