Interspecies Conflict/animal fights


QUESTION: Hello, I have been wondering for a very long time now, which animal is the greatest predator in the world and I hope you could answer that question for me. Do you know the answer to that question? Also, I was wondering if you know which animal is the most dangerous/aggressive towards human beings? Thank you very much!

ANSWER: Hello Gopikhan.

This answer would depend a lot on how "greatest" is defined.  In regards to predators, it can refer to success rate, average difficulty in each predation, average time taken to subdue/kill each prey item, incidents of injury-free predation, etc.  It's hard to zero in on one particular predator for this distinction.  Many predators hunt in groups (lions, wolves, piranhas, ants, etc.), and that must be considered when they are compared to solitary predators (tigers, leopards, bears, etc.)  There are several that come to mind that would be considered worthy of this list:

great white shark: This huge fish has a tremendous sense of smell that aids it in locating prey.  It uses stealth to reduce the distance between itself and its potential victim, and delivers a bite from below with a sudden, forceful lunge.  Its teeth are razor-sharp, and its bite is one of the most devastating tools of destruction in the entire animal kingdom.  After the initial bite, the shark retreats to a safe distance while the injured prey expires.

tiger: Tigers are superior hunters and utilize ambush to great effect.  They can overtake large prey like gaur & water buffalo (animals sometimes exceeding a ton).  They have the specific skills (speed, agility, utilization of jaws & claws) necessary to pull this off.

crocodiles: Crocodiles are also expert ambush predators.  They remain hidden under the water as they approach animals drinking from the shore, and propel themselves (with their powerful tails) in a sudden burst toward the unsuspecting victim once the distance between them becomes small.  They clamp onto the animal with tremendously strong jaws armed with sharp teeth (designed to hold & grip like cleats) and drag it into the water to be drowned.  They perform the "death roll" on the prey, which is a violent spinning of their body (with jaws clamped on) to rip off chunks of flesh.

king cobra: This and other venomous snakes make use of sharp fangs (that act as hypodermic needles) to inject venom into their prey by striking quickly to sink a bite in.  Once the venom incapacitates the animal, the cobra can swallow it without fear of a counter-attack.

cone snail: The cone snail isn't very fast, but it doesn't need to be.  It waits for fish and other marine life to swim by, and fires a harpoon-like structure from its mouth which impales the victim & injects venom.

cheetah: The fastest land animal stealthily stalks prey until it gets a short distance away, then suddenly accelerates.  It can reach speeds of over 60mph in about 3 seconds.  This enables them to catch up to the fleet-footed antelopes it commonly targets.

leopard: The leopard is a unique predator in the fact it drags captured prey into trees to keep other predators from stealing it.  This adaptation is certainly a feather in the cap of the leopard.

anglerfish: This scary-looking fish (huge mouth; sharp teeth) attracts victims by wiggling the end of a spiny protrusion between its eyes.  When the other sea creature gets close enough to the lure (thinking it might be a quick meal), the anglerfish swallows it whole.

There are many different types of predators with many different methods of capturing prey.  The fact a spider builds a web in which to snare insects makes it no less of a predator than a lion or a wolf.  However, with all factors considered, if I had to assign the title of "Greatest Predator in the World" to just one animal, it would be the great white shark.

Many animals are dangerous & aggressive toward human beings, but the one that stands out the most is the river hippopotamus.  These huge animals are fiercely territorial (while in the river or on the riverbank) and will not tolerate the presence of humans.  They kill more people in Africa than any other large animal (including crocodiles, lions, & Cape buffalo).  The hippo will attack passing boats, attempt to tip them over, and bite the people therein.  Other animals could be considered here (saltwater crocodiles, Cape buffalo, Africanized honey bees, black mambas, bulldog ants, etc.), but the river hippopotamus gets my vote.

Best regards.

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QUESTION: Thanks for your amazing answer! I was just wondering why you did not put lions in your category of greatest predators? Thank you.

ANSWER: Hello again Gopikhan.

Lions are indeed amazing predators!  My list focused on single predators, but as far as predatory groups go, lions are just as worthy of top billing as any other.  Lions use ambush & group strategy to bring down animals as large as 680kg Cape buffalo and as fast as wildebeest (over 80kph) on a regular basis.  Sometimes lionesses will chase a particular prey item in the direction where other lionesses are patiently waiting.  They know exactly how to position themselves in a hunt based on wind direction (wind carries scent), and know exactly the right moment to attack.  The large numbers of a pride guarantee dominance in most hunting situations (sub-adult elephants, rhinoceroses, & hippopotamuses have been victims of lions).  Lions will rapidly dig out a warthog burrow to capture any occupants inside.  They are savvy, adaptable, and are the rulers of the savannah.  Lions deserve as many accolades as any other predator.

Best regards.  

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QUESTION: Thank you, My final question is whether you think a Lion or a Tiger would win in a fight in a mutual environment? An environment where both of them feel comfortable to fight. Thank you.

Hello Gopikhan.

This question was asked of me earlier, so I will give you the same answer I gave the other individual:

Lion vs Tiger has been the topic of heated debate between lion fans and tiger fans for quite some time.  Many opinions are biased, and supporters of each side have used anything from sensationalism to red-blood cell count in an attempt to bolster their views.  The bottom line is that these are 2 very similar creatures biologically, and there are only subtle differences between the two.  

The main points to consider are size and behavior/habits.  Tigers are typically larger than lions, and this would make a difference.  Before hunting/deforestation reduced the number and size of the Siberian tiger, their weights were listed at 300kg.  Bengal tigers have been listed as 250kg, and lions are generally listed between 230-250kg as their top weight.  The reduced size of today's tigers probably puts them right into the lion's current weight range, however, so it would be plausible to consider the sizes/weights comparable.  Many sources consider the Siberian tiger to be the largest of the these 3 cats on average, followed by the Bengal tiger, then by the African lion.

Lions form prides, and this aids them in hunting.  The lionesses do the majority of the hunting (the males seldom join in), but the male lion is charged with the protection of the pride.  Other male lions will attempt to invade the pride to gain territory & females, and the leader of the pride must do battle to keep his throne.  As a result, male lions are constantly fighting other male lions.  This is a big reason that the average lifespan of a male lion is 5 years less than the average lifespan of a lioness.  Even at kills, lions will fight amongst themselves for their share of the food.  Tigers are usually solitary hunters (hunting in pairs has occurred), but males will fight over territory.  In regards to prey items, tigers can ambush and kill large prey on its own (gaur & buffalo).  The male lion isn't as practiced a hunter as the tiger (lioness do most of the hunting for it), but there is a big difference between hunting and fighting.  For example, the cheetah is a fantastic hunter, but is a poor fighter.  In fighting skill, I would probably give the lion the nod over the tiger.

The lion's mane is also worth mentioning.  Although its main purpose is for intimidation & attracting females, it can soften the impact of blows from another cat, so it probably can be considered an advantage.

Many accounts in the past of fights between these animals have surfaced (some favoring the tiger and some favoring the lion), but I don't consider them to be reliable.  Many don't take into consideration the size, age, or condition of either animal (or the objectivity of the source), so the validity must be questioned.

At equal weights, I slightly favor the lion.  At average or max weights, I favor the tiger.  There's not enough difference in these 2 cats to promote one to a "better" status.  In some big cats there are major differences (jaguar, leopard, puma, cheetah) but not so with a lion & a tiger.

Best Regards.  

Interspecies Conflict

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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.

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