Interspecies Conflict/question



Thank you for the good and quick response to the answer to my previous question.
I see you're busy.

My question:
Many of the experts claim that a fight between a Female Hyena 75KG and Male Leopard is about 60% in the Leopard's advantage.
According to my logic, that is correct, but my question is, if the Hyena wins, how would it kill the Leopard? Hyena are not natural killers to the throat, neck or spin.

Thanks alot,


ANSWER: Hello Henk.

Hyenas & leopards often confront each other, and typical clashes don't always demonstrate which animal would actually prevail if the fight was to the finish.  A leopard is a solitary hunter, and can't afford to be injured in a dispute with a hyena (or any other dangerous animal for that matter).  Most realistic confrontations between a large spotted hyena and a leopard will go the hyena's way because the leopard won't put in the effort necessary to subdue the hyena because it's too risky.  It doesn't mean the leopard isn't capable of winning, it just knows which battles are worth fighting.  This often gives the impression that the leopard is being bested by an animal that is a superior fighter, and that is not the case.  A male leopard determined to take on a large female spotted hyena & fight to the finish (without regard to injury) will win a large majority of the time.  However, in a realistic confrontation, the hyena will drive the leopard away (and this, in part, is because the leopard knows that other hyenas may be close to arriving on the scene).  Hyenas are very durable, difficult to kill, and have strong jaws with bone-crushing capabilities.  This, along with the fact that leopards don't have great stamina, is why leopards usually don't bother with "finishing" a hyena even though it is within their capabilities to do so.  I bring this up to show why I would heavily favor the leopard, and that I understand that it doesn't mean than every solo confrontation will go the big cat's way.  I may answer a question like "leopard vs spotted hyena" by saying "close fight, edge to the leopard" if I am considering realistic confrontations as well as hypothetical fights to the finish.

Another example is the relationship between a cheetah and a baboon.  A cheetah (being a solitary hunter) will almost always back down to a baboon because the cat is built for speed (and not fighting), and can't afford an injury that will compromise its ability to achieve the great speed it needs to hunt prey.  If a cheetah actually threw caution to the wind & fought a baboon to the finish without regard to injury, it would have a decent chance to kill it (assuming it had a decent weight advantage).  However, it simply doesn't happen in reality, and it makes the cheetah appear weak & incapable.  It's just that the cheetah is smart enough to know it can't afford to skirmish with a baboon.  One video on YouTube shows 2 baboons easily driving 5 cheetahs off of a kill.  The 5 cheetahs could have attacked the baboons & overcame them if they didn't care about the injuries they would receive, but they were smart enough to know that the dangers involved weren't worth the effort.

To address your question, you make a very good point about hyenas; they aren't finishers (one-on-one).  Leopards (and other cats) definitely are, and this gives them a huge asset in their arsenal.  A group of spotted hyenas can finish large prey, and a single hyena can finish a smaller adversary, but a hyena doesn't have a specific technique it can use to finish a leopard.  A hyena can finish a leopard if everything falls in place for it, but it wouldn't be a commonplace result.  If the hyena (by chance) latched onto the throat of the leopard & held on tight (which would be hard to do while being clawed), it could crush the trachea and/or the esophagus of the cat (which could lead to its demise).  The speed & agility of the leopard (coupled with the fact the hyena is somewhat ungainly) make this very improbable.  The hyena wouldn't be going into the fight with this particular technique in mind; it would try to bite anywhere it could reach.  If the hyena clamped onto a paw & injured it with its bite, it could slow the leopard down and make it vulnerable to receiving more bites (which could eventually wear it down or induce blood loss).  There again, this would be improbable due to the leopard's speed & agility.  For a hyena to actually finish a leopard, one of these freak occurrences would need to happen.  If the hyena managed to drive a determined leopard away with a bite (and the leopard decided to disengage) or if the leopard became fatigued (and decided to disengage), I would award the hyena with a victory.  For me to say a hyena would defeat a leopard some of the time would be me referring to the hyena giving the leopard enough resistance to make it flee.  Although it has the ability, the chances of a 75kg hyena actually finishing a 91kg leopard would be quite slim.  Hyenas can be great combatants, but like you said, they aren't finishers (one-on-one).

You may have noticed I don't use percentages or specific numeric probabilities (except 50/50) to determine fight outcomes.  I use phrases like "most of the time" and "more times than not" or "a vast majority of the time" instead.  If I told you that a leopard would defeat a spotted hyena 60% of the time, I would have to be able to explain to you how the hyena would win 40% of the time (which I wouldn't be able to do because I don't think it would happen).  Even if the leopard is rated slightly above a spotted hyena as a combatant, I wouldn't consider favoring it 60/40 to be an accurate representation of that.  Even though the battle would be a difficult one, I would feel comfortable saying that a leopard would win a large majority of the time and not consider that to mean that the leopard was a far superior fighter.  The leopard could win 99% of the time (for an example), but each fight could be a long, hard struggle that is closely matched.  For me to say "the leopard would win 99% of the time" would make it seem like I consider the leopard to be a much, much better combatant (which isn't the case).  That's why I don't use specific numbers.  If I say 50/50, I mean to say the 2 animals are evenly matched and the fight could go either way.  For another example, if you asked me who would win between a polar bear and a hippopotamus, I would say "the hippo would win a vast majority of the time" instead of using numerics.  Let's say I told you "a hippo will win 90% of the time" instead.  That would seem like I heavily favor the hippo at first glance, but I would have to be able to explain to you why I believe a polar bear can defeat a hippo 1 out of 10 times, and I would not be able to do so (it would take a freak occurrence for a polar bear to defeat a hippopotamus).  I think using numbers other than 50/50 can be somewhat misleading, therefore I avoid using them.

Great question!

Best regards.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------


Again thank you for your good answer and reasoned response.

I actually agree with you that percentages do not give real picture of conflict.
Moreover, what I do think is that the leopard would hit, always hard to slightly injured in a fight with a hyena, I do not honestly think that it can ward off. Every bite
I have two questions.

Female Spotted Hyena 100KG (Seen in Tanzania) vs Male Leopard 65KG.

Strongest Wolf species (thaught it was the Grey) of 70KG against Female Spotted Hyena 65KG.

Thanks, I appreciate your help.


ANSWER: Hello again Henk.

Female spotted hyena (100kg; seen in Tanzania) vs Male leopard (65kg): This hyena will be too large for the leopard to overcome.  In order for a leopard to defeat a hyena, it needs to use its quickness & agility to avoid the bone-crushing bite (and like you indicated, avoiding the hyena's bite is no guarantee), tackle the hyena & bring it to the ground, & finish it with a suffocating throat bite.  When the 65kg leopard attempts to close the distance with this 100kg hyena, it might avoid the initial bite attempts, but will not be able to battle for a good position as the hyena powers through to land a bite on the felid.  In other words, this leopard will get bit even after it latches onto the hyena because the hyena will be too strong to be controlled at the onset of the struggle.  The leopard will have to worry about dealing with this counter-attack, and it will make "bringing it to the ground" a difficult task indeed.  Even if the leopard succeeds in its first 2 objectives, it will take a great deal of time to suffocate the durable hyena.  Holding it in place will be a struggle in itself for the leopard, and its lack of endurance doesn't bode well for it if it can't get into a favorable position early on.  The claws of the leopard may cause some damage, but the front paws won't be enough to deter the hyena from attacking with its powerful jaws.  The leopard typically will roll on its back to deploy the raking claws of its hind legs, but it won't be able to hold the hyena in place to utilize this technique while simultaneously avoiding the hyena's jaws.  A hyena this big might actually be able to kill the leopard if it latches onto the neck & holds on tight (or shakes the cat to induce tissue damage), but the leopard will likely flee before it comes to that.  If the leopard weighed about 75kg, I would consider this a close fight, but at these weights the hyena to simply too big.  Female spotted hyena wins.

Grey wolf (70kg) vs Female spotted hyena (65kg): A grey wolf needs a weight advantage to defeat a spotted hyena, and the one assigned here won't quite be enough.  These 2 aren't the best in one-on-one fighting (better in a group), but each animal has certain attributes that make them better in certain areas of combat than the other.  Grey wolves have excellent stamina, and are very nimble.  Hyenas are ungainly overall, but they have stronger bites than wolves and can take more punishment in a conflict.  The wolf will land more bites than the hyena will, but the hyena's bites will be more effective chomp-for-chomp.  For the wolf to gain any meaningful ground, it will need to employ a "bite & shake" technique because the "bite & retreat" technique won't be effective without a significant accumulation of bites.  However, any attempt to latch onto the hyena will leave the wolf open for a counter-attack from the hyena's stronger bite.  The wolf here is larger, but will need to weigh at least 80kg to compete successfully with a 65kg spotted hyena.  Female spotted hyena wins.

Best regards.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------


Thanks again for the questions.
Here time being my last questions.
It is clear that I am the strength of the Spotted Hyena measuring. Interest animals.

Human Male 90KG, trained and healthy. (So a stronger average human) VS Male Spotted Hyena 50KG.

Greywolf 80KG VS Fermale Spotted Hyena 60 KG.

Thank you, and wish you happy holidays.


Hello Henk.

Human male (90kg) vs male Spotted hyena (50kg): Trained humans (like martial artists, Navy seals, etc.) are primarily specialists in overcoming other humans.  A spotted hyena, with its durability & extremely strong bite, presents a unique challenge to any unarmed human.  Hyenas deal with a variety of opponents in its habitat (lions, leopards, African wild dogs, warthogs, etc.), and is a battle-tested animal.  The main objectives of the human would be to avoid the bite & mount an offense worthy enough to wear down the hyena.  Without the benefit of training against an actual hyena (which is an absurd notion), the human's training will not serve it as well as it would against another human.  However, knowing that the anatomy of a hyena has potential weak points (head, throat, etc.) that might be vulnerable to strikes/chokes will give the trained human a small chance of success if strong mental toughness (to deal with pain/injury) accompanies this training.  A large dog can prove to be a worthy opponent for even a trained human, and a spotted hyena is a level higher.  Even with the size advantage assigned here, the human will have a hard time dealing with the strong bites & toughness (hyenas can take a lot of punishment) of this 50kg animal.  Spotted hyenas have survived brutal attacks from lions & leopards (which are much better armed than this trained human). The degree of aggression from the hyena is important as well.  A timid or semi-interested hyena might easily be driven away by a trained human, but a hyena intent on ill will toward the human will pose major problems for it.  I won't count the human out, but I can't imagine a determined hyena being overcome easily.  Edge to male spotted hyena.

Grey wolf (80kg) vs female Spotted hyena (60kg): This will be a close fight.  The grey wolf is more nimble than the ungainly hyena (and will probably land more bites), and has lots of endurance.  The spotted hyena has a stronger bite (even at these weights) & more durability (can take more punishment).  The size advantage & better lateral movement of the grey wolf will give it a slight edge here, but the spotted hyena will have a decent chance to succeed some of the time.  A 75kg grey wolf would probably make this an even battle.  Edge to grey wolf.

Happy holidays to you as well!
Best regards.

Interspecies Conflict

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts




Questions regarding animal conflicts within realistic or unrealistic settings are welcome; my strength lies in medium-to-large species. Small animals (including birds of prey), prehistoric animals, sea creatures, and domestic dog breeds are usually within my scope, but to a lesser degree. I can't confidently answer hypothetical questions about human vs animal, arachnids, insects, or amphibians, but I am willing to field them nonetheless.


From a young age, I have been interested in animals. Starting with the original Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom and World Book Encyclopedias, I have seen many animal shows and documentaries and have read multiple books on the subject. I have a solid understanding of the physiology of many animals and interspecies conflict in general.

Associate degree in unrelated field; biology classes in college.

©2017 All rights reserved.