Don’t keep a hyena as a pet. Seriously.

I know, I know. It sounds like such a cool idea to have a hyena as a pet. Half the visitors to this otherwise non-hyena-related blog arrive here looking for ways to domesticate a hyena and keep it as a pet. Just to make sure people got what they needed, I made a page about what domestication is and made a page of reasons why what domestication is including a pretty well researched post on why keeping a hyena as a pet is a very, very bad idea.

That said– I get it.

Imagine this animal walking around your back yard:

Bad. Ass.

Too bad hyenas are dangerous animals, and wouldn’t make good pets. Even the Association of Zoos and Aquariums agrees. Yes, the famed Hyena Men of Africa walk around with them on chains, but they also keep them drugged and never let them get hungry.

For your convenience, I’ve made a list of animals that are Good Pets, and animals that are Bad Pets.

Good Pets:
Small birds
Freshwater fish
Guinea pigs

Bad Pets:
Large birds
Big cats (lions and tigers, etc)

See, though the hyenas in the pictures were calm looking, they were merely behaving themselves. Those animals are not domesticated. Domestication occurs over the course of several generations. There was a Russian study on foxes in the 1950’s, designed by the geneticist Belyaev, which divided wild foxes into three groups, ranging from totally unsocial with humans, to more friendly. His research has been picked up more recently, but for our purposes they are doing the same thing. Through the course of the experiment, though the researchers selected individuals only for their behavior, the appearance of the animals began to change. Their fur became spotted and their reproductive cycle became more erratic. Further, they began to display increasing neoteny. Their skulls are broader, in relation to the length. Also, their ears drooped, In chapter 1 of The Origin of Species, Darwin noted, “Not a single domestic animal can be named which has not in some country drooping ears…”

Along with physical changes, the whole population became more and more docile with each successive generation. After a few generations, the researchers had to add a fourth category, “domesticated elite.” These animals, though not entirely doglike, were much more social than their predecessors and competed for their handler’s attention. It is through similar pressure that wolves became the dogs we know today. Either because in some populations, the animals which were more docile toward humans were more successful genetically, or because humans actively bred the animals to be more docile. Maybe a bit of both.

So you see, it takes a lot of time to domesticate a species of animal, and with hyenas, this hasn’t happened. So please stop looking at my blog hoping for tips on how to make one your pet. (You know who you are. wordpress gives me the google keywords that get people here.)

Have some sources!
origin of species

And, of course, Wikipedia for the overview. I leave you at its mercy.
counter for tumblr


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6 Responses to Don’t keep a hyena as a pet. Seriously.

  1. Aimee says:

    My fav so far. I laughed out loud at your handy list. Thanks!

  2. Pingback: Somebody get on this for me. « Tailey Po’

  3. mish says:

    I have a skunk an owl a woodpecker and a raccoon that I rescued as abandoned infants ( all within the 2 – 5 weeks old range) and they r all amazingly loving pets. They all pile on me for hugs and kisses and pretty much never leave my side. All of them are over 4 years old now…. They r also very protective of my to strangers…. These were wild animals…… Now they r my family. I also had a wild fox when I was younger. Same thing…. I think its just the way you raise them. If you do not keep certain behaviors in check with the correct type of discipline for the personality of the species u will have a wild unruly stubborn animal with an attitude problem.

  4. Bolko says:

    Seriously, the concept of a pet hyena terrifies me. Who would want to keep a dangerous predator that can possibly try to eat anything that perceives weak enough to subdue? Hyenas in nature eat whatever is available and easy to catch. I think you would have better success with a wolf rather than with a hyena.
    Also you forgot to put small reptiles in the good pet list. They are well-established nowadays, like birds, small mammals, etc.

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