Interspecies Conflict/Death Matches


Hey BK, good to see you back and fielding questions again. You and Jim Wilson are both great.

1: Sally vs. Tasmanian devil
2: Sally vs. American badger (10kg)
3: Sally vs. serval
4: Polar bear vs. ratel at imaginary parity
5: Honey badger vs. king cobra at parity
6: Two huge boars (300 kg) vs. hippo on land
7: Hippo vs. boar at imaginary parity
8: If it really wanted to, could a black rhino become a carnivore and just kill anything in its path and eat it?
9: Boar vs. fighting bull at imaginary parity
10: Brock Lesnar vs. boar at parity
11: Wolf vs. boar at parity
12: Chimp vs. wolf at parity


Hello Martin.  Thanks for the kind words.

1) Sally vs Tasmanian devil: A big Tasmanian devil can weigh almost 12kg, which is about 30% of Sally's weight.  These marsupials have extremely strong bites (pound-for-pound among the strongest bites among mammals) that can crush cartilage and bone, and occasionally engage in fierce battles among themselves.  I can't say for sure, but I'd imagine the Tasmanian devil will have the ferocity to repel any human in the 40kg weight range regardless of skill level.  Mentality is a huge factor here, and I believe it to be a rare occurrence for the mentality of any human (especially a young one) to approach the mentality of a determined wild animal.  The Tasmanian devil is simply too tough.

2) Sally vs American badger: American badgers have thick fur, sharp claws (great for digging), and strong bites.  They can exhibit a lot of aggression when driving away would-be-predators (like coyotes).  As with the last matchup, I don't think Sally will want to approach this animal.  Any attempt be her to engage it will likely be rebuffed, and she will find another way to spend her time.  A martial artist is typically trained to engage other humans, and the skills acquired through this training don't necessarily translate (for the most part) to success against animals.  Again, I believe the badger to be too tough here.

3) Sally vs serval: A large serval can weigh as much as 18kg, which is almost half of Sally's weight.  Servals are slender cats with long legs and small heads (compared to many other felids).  They are extremely athletic & agile, having the ability to leap high to capture birds in flight.  Servals eat small game, and aren't as formidable as other felids in their weight range (bobcats, lynxes, caracals, fishing cats, African/Asian golden cats, etc.), but are still adequately armed with sharp teeth & claws.  Sally might succeed in chasing a serval away, but the circumstances will likely change if the serval stands its ground.  Imagine trying to pick up an ornery housecat that doesn't want to be picked up.  It will likely succeed in making the invasive individual rethink his/her plans with hissing and a bevy of claw swipes.  When my cat is angry (or in "attack mode"), I usually leave him alone to avoid getting bitten or scratched.  I certainly wouldn't try to mess with an angry serval weighing 3 times as much, and I don't think Sally would either.  The serval is too quick & capable.

4) polar bear vs ratel (at parity): Polar bears are very powerful carnivores with great strength from nose-to-tail (can pull heavy aquatic animals from the water, bust holes through thick ice, battle walruses on occasion).  They also have the other typical ursid assets (durability, endurance, forelimb usage, jaws & claws), and have a thick layer of blubber underneath their fur for insulation.  Ratels (honey badgers) are well-known for being fearless & confrontational, and have thick skin that gives them protection from many attacks.  They also have sharp claws (great for digging) and strong jaws.  A battle between a polar bear and a ratel at parity will be an interesting contest, and a reasonably close one.  Polar bears aren't as confrontational as brown bears are (and have been known to give way to smaller brown bears in conflicts), and the more aggressive ratel will likely drive the polar bear away in an actual encounter.  In a serious battle, the polar bear's paw usage (to control movement & deliver paw swipes) will work in tandem with its bite, and the ratel's offense (lots of biting; some clawing) won't be quite as effective.  The thick skin of the ratel will help it a lot, and it will be quicker, but the polar bear will have enough power to eventually gain control more times than not.  Slight edge to polar bear.

5) honey badger vs king cobra (at parity): Honey badgers have thick skin that affords it protection from most attacks, and are armed with strong jaws & sharp claws.  The king cobra has the second-highest venom yield among snakes (after the gaboon viper), and a full dose of its powerful neurotoxins can reportedly dispatch an elephant!  Even at parity, the honey badger has the ability to kill the king cobra.  However, it won't be easy, and the badger may succumb to envenomation (depending on how the venom of the king cobra effects it).  The thick skin may protect the honey badger from some of the king cobra's attempts to penetrate it, but a strike to the face or limb of the mustelid will likely get through.  The honey badger may have to wrestle around with the snake a bit, but it should eventually dispatch the reptile with its strong jaws and snake-killing experience.  There's no guarantee the badger will survive, but it should win the initial battle more times than not.  Honey badger wins.

6) 2 wild boars (300kg each) vs hippo (on land): The hippopotamus will weigh at least 6 times as much as each boar (in some cases more than 8 times as much), and will be over 25-30% taller at the shoulder.  Hippos lose their territorial ferocity once they venture out onto land, and might be driven away by these huge boars in a realistic confrontation.  If both parties are determined to rumble, the boars should be quick enough to avoid the front end of the hippopotamus and attack it from the sides.  The tusks of the boars can cause problems for the hippo (and can penetrate its skin), but the boars will need an accumulation of slashes to disable it.  The hippopotamus can make quick turns with its head, however, and any boar getting close enough to it jaws will be finished in one chomp.  The boars probably won't have the know-how to form any kind of a strategy other than "charge & slash" and might not be able to divide the hippo's attention.  Because the boars don't have the ability to leap upon the hippo (no vertical movement), the chances of one of them getting caught by the hippo (trampled or bitten) at some point as they continue their attack is decent (and then the hippo can turn its attention to the remaining boar).  Even though the hippopotamus is much, much larger than the boars, this will not be a one-sided fight.  However, more times than not, the hippopotamus will prevail.

7) hippo vs wild boar (at parity): The wild boar, at parity, will actually be over 1/3 taller at the shoulder than the hippo.  The thick-skinned hippopotamus can open its jaws over a meter wide, and has long, lower canines used for slashing and forward-protruding lower incisors used primarily for thrusting (in conflicts).  Hippos are able to move about on land, but their legs are too small (compared to their heavy bodies) to enable them to maintain a prolonged terrestrial lifestyle.  They are well-adapted to the water where their large bodies have buoyancy.  The hippopotamus can make quick movements in bursts on land, but don't have great overall mobility there.  A wild boar has a tough hide (that helps protect it from rival boars and predators), sharp tusks, and good lateral quickness.  Its greater mobility on land will be a huge asset in a battle with a hippo, and it will have some success attacking the hippo with its tusks while avoiding the big bite of its rival.  A conflict in shallow water will give the hippo a better chance than on land, but the quicker boar is favored overall.  Wild boar wins.

8) Q: If it really wanted to, could a black rhino become a carnivore and just kill anything in its path and eat it?
A: Black rhinos aren't designed to be carnivores.  They don't have the speed or stealth to successfully capture prey, and their jaws & teeth aren't designed to accommodate a carnivore's diet.  A black rhino is certainly capable of killing just about any animal it comes across, but the animals it usually encounters don't view it as a predatory threat.  If so, they would simply run away as it came near.  Even if a black rhino killed, let's say, a giraffe or a warthog, it could not proceed past that point to make its kill satisfy its nutritional demands.

9) wild boar vs fighting bull (at parity): The fighting bull will be taller at the shoulder, but not by much.  Wild boars are aggressive suids with tough hides, good lateral quickness, and sharp tusks.  Fighting bulls are very well-muscled in the neck, shoulder & back areas, and have sharp, forward-curving horns that are in great position to impale an attacker.  These bulls can make violent, powerful movements, and are typically very combative.  At equal weights this will be a reasonably close fight, but the wild boar's quickness will give it a better chance to utilize its tusks, and its hide will give it some protection from the bull's charges & thrusts.  From a pound-for-pound standpoint the fighting bull is perhaps the best representation among the bovids to engage in a one-on-one fight, and it can certainly win, but I give the edge to wild boar.

10) Brock Lesnar vs wild boar (at parity): Brock Lesnar is a powerful, athletic human being that is skilled at overpowering human adversaries in a competitive setting like the UFC's octagon.  Wild boars are aggressive mammals with tough hides, good lateral quickness, and sharp tusks.  For a predator to successfully tackle a wild boar, certain assets are usually required (presence of sharp teeth & claws, finishing know-how, help from others, etc.).  Brock Lesnar's lack of sharp teeth, sharp claws, & predatory know-how/experience will limit him a great deal in a battle with a wild boar in his size range.  Lesnar's UFC opponents don't get to bring weapons into the field of battle, but the wild boar in this scenario will.  The boar's tough hide will limit the effectiveness of Lesnar's striking offense, and its weaponry will be too dangerous for Lesnar to deal with.  Wild boar wins.

11) wolf vs wild boar (at parity): Wolves are great hunters in a pack, and one hunting solo isn't as much in its comfort zone.  However, a wolf can and will tackle prey items without help.  A wolf is certainly capable of bring down an equal-sized wild boar with the right attack, but a face-to-face encounter with one will be a big challenge.  A wolf has good lateral quickness (side-to-side; front-to-back), but so does a wild boar.  A wolf has strong jaws and sharp teeth (with different ones designed to hold, tear, & crush), but a boar's tough hide is difficult to penetrate.  The tusks of a boar can have very sharp edges, and can easily slash into a wolf's hide.  Basically the boar can employ its offense more readily, and its defenses are better.  Wild boar wins.

12) chimp vs wolf (at parity): The usual top-end weights for these 2 animals are about the same (59kg), but both can get heavier on occasion.  Chimpanzees aren't practiced at taking on similar-sized animals of another species one-on-one, and that will be a big factor here.  A group of chimpanzees may gang up on another animal to attack it or drive it away, but a single one will have trouble taking on a wolf.  It can probably drive the wolf away in a realistic confrontation with an aggressive display, but will have trouble dealing with the canid's strong jaws and better quickness if the carnivore decides to attack.  The chimpanzee can use its hands to grab & help control where the fight goes to some degree, but its bite isn't as dangerous as the wolf's, and the ape's offense won't be adequate enough to dispatch the canid before it suffers serious injuries itself.  Wolves are predatory hunters, and are better designed to kill other animals than chimpanzees are.  Close fight, but the wolf brings a little bit more to the table.  Edge to wolf.

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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