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Hyenas alter their diets according to Lent

A new study of hyenas in Ethiopia show that when the animals are deprived of meat and cheese scraps during Lent, they instead hunt donkeys and scavenge for different kinds of food.

Spotted hyenaEnlarge
The Spotted Hyena is one of the most highly adaptable animals in the wild and is capable of consuming nearly everything. (Wikimedia/Wikimedia commons)

It turns out that humans aren't the only ones to make sacrifices at Lent.

A new study of hyena droppings in Ethiopia show that when the animals are deprived of meat and cheese scraps from homes and butcher shops during Lent, they instead hunt donkeys and other game.

The highly adaptable spotted hyena, according to Science Daily, both hunt and scavenge for food, altering their diets to whatever might be available: birds, mammals, reptiles, garbage and even dung.

"Hyenas can eat almost any organic matter, even putrid carrion and anthrax-infected carcasses. They are capable of eating and digesting all parts of their prey except hair and hooves. Bones are digested so completely that only the inorganic components are excreted in the hyena's droppings," explained Gidey Yirga from Mekelle University in Ethiopia.

In Ethiopia, members of the Orthodox Tewahedo Church in the north of the country give up meat and dairy during the Lent.

Local hyenas, who often scavenge the community's garbage must make due without protein during that period.

Research found that before Lent, 14.8 percent of hyena droppings contained donkey hair while During Lent, that number increased to 33.1 percent within the community.

That number decreased once Lent was over and the hyena's were free to snack on meat scraps again, reported the Christian Science Monitor.

The new research was published in the British Ecological Society’s Journal of Animal Ecology

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/green/wildlife-news/120405/hyenas-alter-their-diets-according-lent