Spotted hyaenas utilize isolated natal dens (NDs) and communal dens (CDs) for rearing their cubs. Here we describe patterns of natal and CD occupation by hyaenas belonging to one well-studied clan in the Maasai Mara National Reserve during a 10-year period. Locations of 98 den sites that were used as natal or CDs by hyaenas in the study clan were digitized in a Geographic Information System, and the duration of use of each den site, frequency of re-use, and distances involved in den moves were quantified. Hyaenas moved their CD monthly on average. Most CD sites were occupied only once during the study, but several sites were used repeatedly. On rare occasions, the movement of hyaenas to a new den site could be attributed to a disturbance event at the CD, but factors regularly prompting hyaenas to move to new CD sites were unclear. High-ranking female hyaenas were more likely to rear their cubs from birth in a CD than low-ranking females. Low-ranking females almost always utilized isolated NDs for the first few weeks of a litter's development, and low-ranking females transferred their cubs over longer distances than did high-ranking females. ?? 2006 East African Wild Life Society.
Additional publication details
Patterns of den occupation by the spotted hyaena (Crocuta crocuta)