Thursday, November 29, 2012

Those dirty dogs . . .

Spotted Brown Hyena
Of all the animals I thought I feared encountering, the hyena came in first. Remember all those movies where hyenas yipped at night, hunted in packs, and charged helpless explorers, their toothsome, gaping grins predicting a ferocious appetite for human flesh.

In Tanzania, more comforting local folklore suggests that witches ride the spotted hyenas at night; if a child is born while a hyena cries, that child will grow to be a thief; or, if a bit of hyena dung is wrapped in an infant's clothing, that toddler will walk faster (Wikipedia). But the truth remains: the hyena is a wily scavenger, versatile, and definitely not a picky eater. In the summer, if bush fires are common and prey difficult to find, and if people sleep outside, the spotted hyena may just snack on an unlucky human.

We spotted several hyenas in the Serengeti and Norongoro Crater, an idyllic gigantic crater so large, the animals here do not have to migrate. The rains come and grasses are plentiful.

A spotted brown hyena's fearsome grin
But those hyenas still have voracious appetites. They eat anything, and they eat all of anything, using their teeth to crush and eat even the bones. Those slivered up bones move through the stomach, the upper intestine, and the lower intestine, to give the hyena a modern complaint -- hemorrhoids.

We saw hyenas with their butts plopped in mud to ease the pain. It's rather difficult to fear an animal who suffers from hemorrhoids!

Warthogs also enjoy a mudbath now and then. That's the topic for tomorrow's post.

Solace at last!

1 comment:

KM Huber said...

I am with you on the hyena. These are wonderful posts. Thank you.