Hyenas, also spelled Hyaenas, are more closely related to cats than to dogs, although their appearance and behaviour is more dog-like.
There are three species of true hyena -- the Spotted, the Striped and the Brown -- and a fourth close relative, the Aardwolf, ranging over sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia.
The Spotted Hyena shown on this page, also called the Laughing Hyena because of its laugh-like sound, is the largest hyena and is native to much of sub-Saharan Africa.
Hyena's have a reputation as cowardly scavengers but are very strong, feared by many larger predators from whom packs will steal kills and will often hunt and kill their own prey.
They are intelligent and cunning and live in packs that communicate, particularly when stealing kills. Coat colour and spotting varies among individuals.