Interspecies Conflict/small animals


Hi BK,

I love your work. First time I've asked a question.

1) Lemming vs vole
2) Stoat vs domesticated house cat
4) Fisher vs Badger
5) Bobcat vs Wolverine

Thanks so much! And Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello Chris.  Thanks for the kind words.

1) Lemming vs vole: There are several types of lemmings and several types of voles.  These rodents are similar in appearance (rat-like or mouse-like), and have varying sizes.  Many lemmings can weigh as much as 3 golf balls, while most voles weigh about the weight of a single golf ball.  The Eurasian water vole, however, can occasionally weigh as much as 7 golf balls.  Both rodents have incisors for gnawing that grow continuously.  The lemming has a rounder body than the vole (which may mean greater agility for the vole), and it also has thicker fur to help protect it from the cold weather in its habitat.  A battle between these 2 will likely be a bite-vs-bite affair, and although the vole might be a bit quicker, the lemming's thicker fur will offer it greater protection from bites.  At equal weights the hardy lemming might have the slightest of edges, but most lemmings will outweigh most voles by a significant amount.  The much larger Eurasian water vole will likely defeat any lemming.  Depends on how you look at it.    

2) Stoat vs domesticated house cat: There are many types of domestic cats, and some will be better equipped for this matchup than others.  The stoat, or short-tailed weasel, is a small, extremely agile mammal that is capable of tackling prey items larger than itself (including rats and cottontail rabbits), and typically preys on mice, voles, birds, shrews, snakes, and lizards.  It can weigh more than 7oz (slightly more than 4 golf balls).  The stoat only has its jaws as an offensive weapon, but its agility, ferocity, flexibility, and killing technique make it more than match against anything close to its weight that also has jaws as its only offensive weapon.  Cats, however, have jaws and claws, and most domestic cats will have a huge size and weight advantage over the stoat.  Many of the larger prey items a stoat tackles can't fight back nearly as well as a cat can (imagine a stoat trying to attack a Russian Blue or a British Shorthair, for example).  Stoats attack by making a rapid dash, pouncing on the victim, and delivering a bite to the back of the neck.  A stoat will usually chase a much larger rabbit to induce fatigue before it attempts an attack, and the tired rabbit can't adequately defend itself.  If a domestic cat is attacked by a stoat, it will be quick and agile enough to counter-attack before the stoat can get into a favorable position, and the claws of the cat will be a serious obstacle for the stoat to contend with.  I am certain that there are many timid domestic cats that would flee from an aggressive stoat because they won't be sure what to make of the situation, but there are certainly some house cats that will immediately attack and kill the stoat without hesitation.  Many house cats will weigh 20-25 times as much as a stoat, but there are some that can weigh over 50 times as much.  On most occasions the domestic cat will simply be too large and well-armed to lose to a stoat.  Domesticated cat wins.  

4) Fisher vs Badger: The badger, if we use the American badger (whose habitat can overlap the fisher's in areas close to the Canada/United States border), will weigh anywhere from 40% to 90% more than the fisher.  Fisher martens are agile mustelids that are adept climbers and swimmers.  Fisher martens commonly prey upon hares, squirrels, chipmunks, and mice (which they kill with a bite to the back of the neck).  They are also successful hunters of the porcupine, which can be a dangerous venture (the fisher must circle around the porcupine as the rodent turns to avoid the quills and attack its face).  Fishers are capable of killing animals larger than themselves (as most members of the weasel family are).  American badgers have flat, wide bodies and short limbs.  They are excellent diggers, and have sharp claws and strong bites.  American badgers prey upon burrowing mammals (like ground squirrels and pocket gophers), birds, and reptiles (including rattlesnakes).  They can swim and dive, and enjoy the water.  Badgers will defend themselves fiercely if necessary.  A fisher marten will probably have the agility and flexibility to gain the advantage over an American badger at equal weights, but not at average or maximum weights.  The badger will be too big and strong for the fisher to contend with on a consistent basis.  With most mustelid vs mustelid conflicts, the larger animal will prevail more times than not.  Badger wins.

5) Bobcat vs Wolverine: A wolverine will weigh over 40% more than a bobcat.  Wolverines are among the strongest mammals pound-for-pound, and have jaws capable of crunching through frozen meat and bone.  Wolverines also have stocky limbs with sharp claws and thick fur that can help buffer against a bobcat's attack.  Wolverines occasionally predate upon animals larger than themselves, and bobcats seldom do.  Wolverines will sometimes attack moose and elk encumbered by deep snow, and have been known to drive bears, wolves, and cougars away from kills.  Bobcats typically target hares and rodents, but will occasionally attack birds, reptiles, and even skunks.  Bobcats are quick and agile, but one will have a hard time clawing and biting effectively against the robust wolverine while dealing with the mustelid's attack.  The size and strength advantage of the larger wolverine will enable it to dominate positioning, and its endurance will allow it to battle strongly while the bobcat will eventually fatigue.  A bobcat can be a fierce fighter, but it's too small here, and will realistically be driven away quickly.  Check out a similar answer from 7/5/14 ("Interspecies Conflict") matching a Eurasian Lynx against a wolverine.  Wolverine wins.

Happy Thanksgiving to you as well!

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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