Grey Wolf vs Spotted Hyena Who would win this battle? Wolves and hyenas coexisted in Europe and Asia during the Pleistocene Ice Age, and probably did fight, at least on occasion. Wolves and hyenas are both able pack hunters, as well; the former regularly take down bison and moose, the latter deal with cape buffalo, zebra, and wildebeest. It is, interestingly, the male wolf that is larger and leads the pack, but the female takes these roles in hyenas. The Common Wolf is also known as the Gray Wolf. This is the type of wolf that most people are familiar with. However, they are often mistaken for other types of wolves out there. This is because the actual appearance of them can be drastically different based upon the location they are in. Some of the Common Wolves out there only weigh about 80 pounds. Others can be closer to 100 pounds. They range in length from 4 ½ feet to 6 feet. The colors of them can include brown, gray, black, red, white, and a mix of various colorings and shades. The head and the muzzle of these wolves are narrow compared to other species. They also don’t have the same mass across the shoulders. Yet they are still very powerful animals. They aren’t as fast as other animals, but they have a stamina that can’t be matched. So they may not have that initial speed but they can go the distance at a good rate. They have very sharp teeth and jaws. It is believed they have more than three times the biting power behind them than the average canine. What is very interesting is that the saliva from a Common Wolf has been proven to help new tissues grow and to reduce the risk of an infection occurring. Spotted Hyenas are the largest species of hyena, with females being up to 10% larger than males. They have a body length of 4.25 feet, a tail length of 10 inches and they weigh between 135 – 155 pounds. Their coat is short and it is sandy to grey/brown in colour with black spots. The hair on their neck and back slopes forward and it stands on end when the hyena becomes excited. Spotted Hyenas are strongly built animals and they have a large head and neck. Their ears are short and rounded and they have extremely strong jaws. Their front legs are longer than their hind which gives their back a sloping appearance. Their feet have four toes with broad toe pads and non-retractable claws. Females are difficult to distinguish from males due to them having enlarged sexual organs. They are often displayed in meeting ceremonies to reinforce social bonds and hierarchies. Habitat/Distribution Today the range of the Grey Wolf has been reduced to the following areas of the United States: Alaska, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Grey Wolves can also be found in Alaska, Canada, as well as Russia and a few eastern European countries. Historically, Grey wolves have the largest range of any land mammal, other than people. Grey wolves have lived in all habitats in the Northern Hemisphere except for tropical forest. Grey wolves tend to occupy forests, tundra and grassy plains as well as deserts and mountains. Spotted Hyenas are found on the prey rich savannahs of Africa. Their social structure is female dominated and they live in clans containing 5 – 80 members. When young males reach adulthood they usually leave their maternal clan but young females stay with the clan they were born into. They share a communal den and latrine and they occupy a territory of 15 – 390 sq. miles. They defend their territory using calls, scent marking and boundary patrols. Diet Grey wolves are carnivores. Their natural diet is solely meat and they often prey on animals larger than they are including deer, moose, caribou, elk, bison and musk-oxen as well small animals such as beaver, hares and other small rodents. Most experts believe that the Common Wolf helps to bring order and balance to the ecosystems that they are a part of. They are very opportunistic when it comes to what they feed upon. What is interesting is that they usually won’t attack prey that stands still. Yet they can surround it for hours or days at a time. Should the animal run, that is when the Common Wolves will chase it and try to take it down. Spotted Hyenas feed on a variety of prey and they are powerful hunters. If they are hunting alone they will prey upon smaller animals such as birds, hares, foxes, jackals, fish, snakes and carrion. Usually they will split into hunting groups containing 2 – 5 individuals and together they will hunt medium to large hoofed animals such as zebra, wildebeest, thompson’s gazelle, grant’s gazelle, topi, waterbuck, eland, impala and hartebeest. Spotted Hyenas and lions prey upon the same animals and they occasionally end up in confrontations that can lead to the group of hyenas killing a lion. To supplement their diet, Spotted Hyenas will also eat fruit, eggs and invertebrates. Reproduction There is a long mating season for the Common Wolf. It can last from January through April. The male alpha leader of the pack will mate with the beta female. However, he may also mate with other females in the pack. This is different that other species of wolves where he will only mate with the beta. Generally each litter will have from 4 to 6 pups. However, it is possible for her to have many more than that. Mating for this species is polygynous. Males do a bowing display for attracting females before mating. Breeding takes place at any time of the year at intervals of 11 and 21 months. The milk of a spotted hyena is very rich, and cubs can last for a few days between feeds, unlike wild dogs and lions. Females have the sole responsibility for bringing up the cubs. They reach maturity at the age of 2 – 3 years. Males leave their birth clan at around 2 years old, whereas females remain. Behavior The Common Wolf uses a variety of vocal and non verbal forms of communication within their pack. They are very dependent upon their social group and do all they can to maintain it. They can be aggressive towards other wolf packs, often using howling to inform them not to come into their established territory. They will heavily mark their territory with urine and scents that they make in their body. Rolling around on the ground and rubbing against trees helps them to be able to release these scents. It can be very difficult for young Common Wolves to find their own habitat out there in the wild. In terms of their social intelligence, Spotted hyenas are considered to be close to the same level as certain primates. They have excellent night vision, being mostly nocturnal, hunting at night and sleeping or staying near their den in the daytime. They have a matriarchal social order of related individuals that are called clans. One alpha female leads the clan. These animals mark their territory by scratching the ground and with an oily substance that they secrete from their anal glands. Spotted hyenas have a large vocal range and communicate with clan members with whoops, yells, grunts, growls and giggles. The giggling sounds like manic laughter, hence their other name. Pack versus pack, the wolf pack would definitely make the Hyena’s feel very hurt before the Hyenas will retreat. No animal is willing to take any risks if they can be avoided. But in a one-on-one fight, a lot of factors will come into play if both wolf and hyena are about the same size. Wolves are smaller and less powerful than hyenas are, but are faster, have more endurance, and appear to be more intelligent. Hyenas regularly clash with lions in Africa, and are often able to drive off prides, provided that all the lions present are female. Wolf numbers, however, are depressed when tigers are present. Based on these various diference, I would bet on the hyena, which appears bolder, larger, and with a more devastating bite. The fact that hyenas deal more effectively with natural enemies and the fact that grey wolves have never found a foothold in the hyena’s native Africa also lead me to lean towards the hyena in a very close matchup.