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Do Hyenas Make Good Pets? What You Need to Know!

Quincy Miller

Would a hyena make a good pet? Perhaps not surprisingly, the answer is no, absolutely not. They’re hyenas. They’re not even friendly in “The Lion King”!

That hasn’t stopped some people from trying to domesticate them, though, with mixed results. We don’t recommend trying this, as wild animals should stay wild, but if you’re thinking about adding a hyena to your pack, everything that you need to know is here.

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Are Hyenas Terrible Pets?

Here’s the thing: If you get a hyena while they’re still a pup and socialize them to the extreme, they can make excellent companions. That’s still no reason to get one, though.

The fact is that you’re better off getting a dog. Dogs have been (largely) domesticated, whereas hyenas haven’t been domesticated at all.

Sometimes, even the most loving, trustworthy family dog can snap and bite someone. That can happen even with the benefit of thousands of years of domestication. Now, imagine a wild animal that hasn’t had any of that domestication. Even a well-behaved hyena could be a ticking time bomb.

You’ll have to go overboard with obedience training, but even then, you’ll be battling against all the built-in wild behavior in the hyena’s brain. They only have so much willpower, and you don’t want to be around when it evaporates.

If you like the idea of having a pet that can kill you or a family member, then by all means, adopt a hyena. Otherwise, though, stick with dogs.

a closeup of hyena
Image Credit: PatternPictures, Pixabay

Is It Even Legal to Own a Hyena?

Owning a hyena will be against the law in many places, and even if you live somewhere that allows exotic pets like hyenas, you’ll likely need to get an assortment of permits. That means extra expense and dealing with plenty of red tape.

The law is only part of your problem. You’ll also have to insure your pet, and that’s going to be easier said than done. Even if you can find a company that will cover your new pet, it’s not going to be cheap.

Are Hyenas Good With Other Pets?

Don’t expect them to live peacefully with your cat, guinea pig, or other dogs. They’re not domesticated — they’re used to living in the wild, where every non-family member is either a threat or a meal on wheels.

There’s a bit of a catch-22 about this too. Some hyenas can bond with dogs if they’re raised with them from puppydom, but that can lead them to form packs. Hyenas typically form packs for one purpose: to hunt smaller and weaker animals.

More troublingly, though, they may see small children and maybe even some adults as two-bite brownies. Unless your child is Tarzan, you don’t want to raise them around wild, dangerous animals like hyenas.

Ultimately, a hyena will never be trustworthy in the same way that a dog is — at least, not for a few thousand years.

hyenas in the wild
Image Credit: tonyo_au, Pixabay

Is There Anything Else That You Need to Know About Owning Hyenas?

Hyena butter is a paste that’s secreted from their anal glands that they wipe on any surface possible. You probably don’t want to know how anal-secreted hyena butter smells.

Hyenas also need special enclosures because they’re incredible jumpers. Your regular fence isn’t likely to cut it, so you’ll need an extremely tall fence, preferably with coyote rollers on top. They’re energetic as well, so you’ll need to give them plenty of room to run around.

Are There Any Benefits to Owning a Hyena?

Let’s face it: The main appeal of owning a hyena is being able to walk them down the street and watch as other people flee in terror.

Other than making you feel like a proper villain, there isn’t much reason to bring a hyena home. They can be loyal and affectionate under the best of circumstances, but again, dogs are better for this purpose.

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What’s the Verdict? Should You Get a Hyena?

If you have the opportunity to adopt a hyena, we’d strongly urge you to reconsider. They may be cute and smell like anal secretions, but other than that, there’s not much to recommend them.

Get a dog instead. There are hundreds of them waiting to be adopted near you, so go get one of those.

Granted, a dog won’t make you look like a low-budget Bond villain, but remember: Bond villains always die horrifically in the end.


Featured Image Credit: Jaroslav Španko, Pixabay

Quincy Miller

Quincy has been around mutts his entire life and has been writing about them for the past nine years and now consists of sharing a house with three spoiled pups who couldn’t hold down a job to save their lives. Quincy never intended to be a cat person. When his wife brought home a kitten one day, he told her she had one week to find it a new home. That week turned into 10 years (his wife moves very slowly), and that kitten turned into three (they got two more, the kitten didn't self-replicate). After a decade of sharing his home with the dogs and three cats, one horrifying realization finally set in: oh God, he's a cat person now too, isn't he???