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:
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.
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.)
And, of course, Wikipedia for the overview. I leave you at its mercy.
- Do hyenas and canines hunt in packs because of their size, the size of their prey and terrain limitations? Also, how different are the hu… (youngrory.wordpress.com)
- Hyena News (drmetablog.com)
- Just one big happy family: Abandoned lion, tigers and hyena cubs who all play together (thisismoney.co.uk)