Hyenas are amazing animals with a social structure that's far more complex than we actually understand. Seen by much of the world as villainous scavengers, they don’t have the best reputation ... which is why it's  interesting to look a little closer at their domestic setup.

Hyaenas have matriarchal systems – a dynamic that can ultimately protect cubs from infanticide by males. The strongest female will lead a pack that may number dozens of animals. Within that pack it can be difficult to figure out who does what, but it is understood that everyone looks out for everyone else – nobody risks a fellow pack member unnecessarily. This probably explains a lot of the ducking and diving that can be seen when a pack assesses a dangerous situation – such as trying to steal a kill from lions.

“The youngsters of any species are active creatures that bother their mother ... so just how patient are hyaena moms when their cubs interrupt a comfy snooze?”

As collective hunters they are formidable, working together to run down their prey. In fact, spotted hyaenas in the Serengeti are regarded as the most successful hunters around – outperforming lions!

But when it comes to parenting, hyena moms like to do things without the help of others. However, high-ranking females will likely have strong, fast-growing cubs, since their superior status also means better access to food. Mothers will also allow their own cubs to feed with them at kills. Even as newborns, the cubs are highly developed: eyes are already open and a full set of teeth in place, ready to chew on anything that's on offer. 

Aside from some serious cuteness factor, there's something else that makes hyena cubs just like the youngsters of many other species: they're inquisitive, tirelessly active and very fond of pestering mom. So ... just how patient can a sleep-deprived hyaena mom be when her brood insists on keeping her from a much-needed snooze? These cute snaps say it all! 

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