Mammals and Lizards

Spotted hyena

Spotted hyenas are social creatures that live in clans of up to 80 animals. They are most active at night, but it is not unusual to see them during the day. Clans have dominant female, successive generation of her daughters and their offspring. Females are larger then males and dominate them. Their clans are territorial. They are good hunters and they get up to 75% of their food from their own kill, the rest they steal from any predator except lion and even lion give way when number of spotted hyenas is too big.


They hunt during the day, but prefer early morning or evening, when it’s not too hot. Adult female cheetahs are usually solitary, but their cups stay with them for at least a year. Male cheetahs quite often live in small groups. Some of them hold territories, while others are wanderers. They have lightweight teeth and skull, so they have trouble to bite through the skin of small antelope. They usually start to feed at groin where the skin is thin.


Caracals are quite strictly nocturnal and solitary. Males and females associate only for mating. They take a wide range of food from insects to small antelope, and capture their prey by stalking to within about 5 meters, then chasing and pouncing. They are in general strong for their size, especially adult males. With their long back legs they can make great jump and catch even flying bird from the air. A caracal mother has her young in a cave or thick vegetation. Older cubs go with mother on hunting trips to learn from her.


Servals are nocturnal but they can sometimes be seen in the cool of early morning or late afternoon. Male and female sometimes hunt together as a prelude to mating and young servals accompany their mothers on hunting trips. The rest of the time they are solitary. They live in a home range which covers 2-3 square kilometres and are specialized for hunting rodents in thick grass. Serval uses its large ears to locate the prey by sound and pounces in a high leap that carries it above high grass and down onto its prey with enough force to kill it.


Jackal lives alone or in small groups. Usually they are solitary or live in pairs that stay together for life. Because they have wide habitat tolerance and varied diet, their movement patterns are very variable. They live in home ranges or territories of up to nearly 20 km. Mated pairs are territorial and some individuals are wanderers, moving over 80 km in four nights. Settled jackal covers 7-12 km in a night. In territorial pairs female chases intruding female and male deals with intruding male. Jackals communicate also with facial expressions and body postures.

Wild dogs

Wild dogs are active during the day because they hunt by sight, although they sometimes take advantage of bright moonlight to hunt at night. Like most animals they rest in the shade during the hottest part of the day. Wild dogs live in packs of anything from 2 to over 50 dogs, but most of them have about a dozen adult members. Each pack occupies an enormous home range from 450 km up to 4000 km. A wild dog pack is headed by a dominant male and female who account for all the breeding activity. Below the alpha pair there is no definite hierarchy. A wild dog who wants a piece of meat that another is eating begs for it. They are purely carnivorous.

African civet

Civets are nocturnal and terrestrial, although they will clamber into low trees to reach ripe fruits. Except for small family groups they are solitary they move around on regular pathways and probably have overlapping home ranges. They are active hunters of mammals up to the size of hares, ground living birds etc. They also eat fallen fruits, reptiles and amphibians. A civet’s hunting technique is to stalk, rush and pounce. The prey is bitten and then sharply shaken or thrown to one side and grabbed again. These tactics are designed to prevent counterattacks by the prey. Civets are also reported to eat herbivore dung, probably as a source of vitamins.


They are highly social and live in groups of up to 30 animals who forage together during the day and sleep together at night. They dig burrows themselves or take them over from ground squirrels or yellow mongooses. A suricate group consists of a dominant female and her mate and successive litters of their offspring, occasionally with an immigrant from another group. During long days of summer they escape the worst of the heat by taking a midday siesta. Very often each suricate breaks off and props itself up on its hind legs and tail to scan for approaching danger.


There are two subspecies of zebras, but most of the facts are same. Most of the zebras have to drink minimum one time per day, if grazing then more often. They will dig for water if necessary. The basic social unit is a herd of up to half a dozen mares and their foals, which is controlled by a dominant stallion. There is a dominance hierarchy, which is established by fighting and maintained by threat gestures. The most common threat is a rapid approach with the head held low.


Warthogs are active during the day. At night they shelter in large burrows, which they adapt from other animals by digging with their forefeet. A warthog’s hole is protection against cold as much as against predators and in bad weather they stay underground even during the day. A hole does not have a permanent owner, but one warthog can use a particular hole for several consecutive days. It enters its hole backwards so that anything that follows has to face his tusks. This tactic is effective against anything except lions, which are able to dig warthogs out of their refuges.




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