The world is home to many animals that are capable of putting fear into us, with many having evolved to be tough in order to survive. Many have also evolved to be ruthless, gaining them sinister reputations. With their unsettling laugh, the hyena is an animal that has gained such a reputation, and it’s not a reputation that is entirely undeserved. Some hyenas are effective hunters, capable of taking down even large prey, while others are great opportunists, cleaning up the leftovers of kills made by larger predators. Their proximity with people also means that there is a potential threat, and there have been instances of hyenas killing people in the past.
Despite their reputations as mindless killers, hyenas are highly intelligent animals. They are extremely organized when hunting and live in complex social groups. While hyenas are often brutal and unforgiving, it has helped to make the species hugely successful in its range.
Hyenas have fascinated us for generations and a great deal of time and effort has been spent on learning as many facts about them as we possibly can.
Hyena Fact #10: Not Laughing for Fun
The hyena is known, among other things, for its eerie laugh that can make hairs stand on end. At times, it is almost as though they are laughing at the plight of their hapless victims, finding amusement from inflicting pain and suffering. It is a sound that will send chills down the spine of those living around them, and has cemented the hyena a place in folklore. Despite how it may sound, however, they are not laughing out of fun. In fact, they are not laughing at all.
The sound that they make is a form of communication, and one that helps them to know exactly who is in charge. The tone at which each individual hyena laughs is according to their age and social status. These sounds are made mostly when they are excited, such as when they have made a kill, which adds to the eerie reputation of the sound.