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

If you came here looking for instructions, read my follow up post, How to Keep a Hyena as a Pet because I give up. In that post you’ll get: the estimated cost of feeding an adult spotted hyena, behavioral concerns in owning an undomesticated pack animal, the particular challenges of containing your pet hyena, its veterinary needs, and legal considerations.  

But reallyDon’t keep a Hyena as a Pet.  

That said— I really do get it. It sounds like such a cool idea to have a hyena as a pet, almost as great as having a tiger for a pet (or maybe even better, consider the niche value). If I had a spirit animal, a hyena would be it. 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 content that is more in-depth, consider reading Hyena Domestication 101 (for $3/month tier members). There I explain how I became a lay-expert in hyena domestication, and introduce the barriers to domesticating a hyena. (For the record, it’s not technically impossible.)

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

Good Pets

  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Horses
  • Small birds
  • Freshwater fish
  • Guinea pigs

Bad Pets

  • Velociraptors
  • Chimps
  • Wolverines
  • Octopi
  • Large birds
  • Big cats (lions and tigers, etc.)
  • Bears
  • Hyenas!

Thanks for reading! If you liked this post, read about the evidence for (and against Hyena Domestication in Ancient Egypt.

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12 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.

  5. Ali Aird says:

    I think as long as their tamed and have a muzzle thy should be fine i have one myself

  6. Yuri says:

    Pet is a degenerate concept. How far have we fallen that we have to take slaves to fulfill the emotional needs our society is incapable of meeting?

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