Interspecies Conflict/Carnivore fights


Hey BK, Anees again, I really enjoyed the bear dog vs bears answers. Here is another list.

Polar bear vs Kodiak bear (it was coming!)
American black bear vs African lion
American black bear vs Asiatic black bear
American black bear vs silverback gorilla
Grizzly bear vs smilodon populator
Saltwater crocodile vs Nile crocodile
Snow leopard vs Florida panther
Snow leopard vs spotted hyena

And again, you can do max and average weight fights. Thank you.

Hello again Anees.

Polar bear vs Kodiak bear: The maximum weight for these bears is about the same, but the polar bear can be a bit heavier on average.  Here is an answer for this matchup from 6/28/15 ("Wild Cats"):

"These bears will weigh about the same.  The polar bear is sleeker (built for swimming), but probably is stronger pound-for-pound.  The Kodiak bear has a stockier build, and probably is stronger than the polar bear in the shoulder/neck region (and can generate stronger paw swipes).  The polar bear might have the edge in positioning if the 2 began wrestling around, but the paw swipe war would likely favor the Kodiak bear (which has long claws).  Brown bears are typically more confrontational & aggressive than polar bears, and a realistic encounter would probably end up with the Kodiak bear driving the polar bear away.  In an actual fight to the end, I would slightly favor the more robust Kodiak bear."

Because this is a close battle at parity (and maximum weights), the polar bear may have enough of a weight advantage at average weights to be favored (one polar bear weighed well over 680kg, but the current weight of polar bears isn't as much as what it once was).  Other factors to consider are the tough hairs on the body of the Kodiak bear that can provide some protection from damage, as well as the thick layer of blubber (up to 10cm) on the polar bear that can serve the same purpose.  I usually don't factor in climate when answering animal vs animal questions (and it won't really matter here because of both animals being able to operate in the cold), but it is worth mentioning that a polar bear can overheat if it vigorously exerts itself on land for an extended period of time (it has a tremendous amount of stamina when swimming in the cold water, though).  With the thick layer of blubber taken into account, the actual muscle mass of a Kodiak bear may exceed that of a similar-sized polar bear because a lot of the "volume" of the polar bear will be taken up by the blubber.  The polar bear's claws may be shorter than the Kodiak's (about half as long), but the effectiveness of claws in a fight are more contingent on how they are used.  A polar bear's sharp, curved claws are made for hooking into ice, but they can certainly rip into an opponent's hide just like the claws of a Kodiak can.  A bigger polar bear will win here (and I don't rule out a smaller Kodiak bear driving a bigger polar bear away), but at close weights (with all factors considered) the more confrontational Kodiak bear will have the edge.  You can also check out my answer for this matchup from 9/9/14 ("More Battles").

American black bear vs African lion: The American black bear will weigh about 10% more than the lion at maximum weights, and but because the black bear's weight varies greatly from region-to-region, the average weight of a male African lion (usually around the 181kg range) can exceed the average weight of the ursid.  Black bears aren't as formidable (pound-for-pound) as the more robust, aggressive brown bear, but they are still strong animals with great endurance.  The largest cat an American black bear comes across is the cougar, which is about 1/2 the size of a lioness.  African lions are the fighters of the big cat world (against other male lions), but they do not cross paths with any bear in nature.  However, the lion's superior agility, quickness, & finishing experience (against large animals) will serve it well against the black bear (which is omnivorous & doesn't usually tangle with large animals).  The sturdy, durable bear will certainly have a chance, and this will be a close fight, but the lion brings too much to the table.  African lions engage in combat with dangerous adversaries (other lions, spotted hyenas, buffalo, zebra, etc.) more often than an American black bear does.  A black bear can occasionally come across brown bears, wolves, and cougars, but it doesn't have the same willingness to fight as the big cat does.  Edge to African lion.

American black bear vs Asiatic black bear: The American black bear will weigh about 1/3 more than the Asiatic black bear at maximum weights and can be slightly more at average weights.  Depending on the region, the average weight of an American black bear will usually range from 80kg to 180kg (and even more on rare occasions), and the average Asiatic black bear will be about 135kg.  The shoulder height is about the same (1m).  There's not enough difference in these 2 bears (anatomically or behaviorally) to look much further than a "the bigger bear will win" statement.  The American black bear will usually claw and bite while on all fours, and the Asiatic black bear will often do these actions from a standing position.  American black bears sometimes encounter brown bears, cougars, and wolves.  Asiatic black bears occasionally encounter predatory threats such as tigers, leopards and dholes.  Both bears don't typically attack other animals, and many hostile encounters are defensive (and both will retreat into a tree if the situation calls for it).  The Asiatic bear is probably the more aggressive of the 2, but size will matter here.  The American black bear will typically have enough of a weight advantage to be granted victory.  American black bear wins.

American black bear vs silverback gorilla: The American black bear will weigh approximately 25% more than the gorilla (their average weights will actually be close).  Gorillas are very strong animals with powerful arms, grabbing hands, and dangerous bites.  However, they are normally peaceful, and aren't used to engaging animals of other species in face-to-face conflict.  This isn't to say these primates aren't capable fighters, but their lack of experience will be a detriment.  An angry gorilla beating its chest and showing its teeth is a very intimidating sight, but conflicts among them rarely get serious.  The gorilla can use its forelimbs offensively, but will primarily grab, pull, and bite.  Black bears are better armed than gorillas because of the presence of claws.  They are extremely strong (possibly stronger than the gorilla pound-for-pound), and have very good endurance.  Bears can rip open hide with paw swipes, and can use the claws (and forelimbs) to grip into an opponent's body to deliver a damaging bite.  A silverback gorilla defending his troop might easily intimidate an invading black bear into a retreat in a realistic scenario, but he will be outmatched in a serious battle.  Black bears are simply better equipped for battle than gorillas.  A gorilla will need a decent weight advantage to be favored against any bear.  American black bear wins.

Grizzly bear vs Smilodon populator: At maximum and average weights the grizzly bear can weigh almost 15% more than the Smilodon populator (a grizzly's average and maximum weight vary from region to region).  An average Smilodon populator's weight is about the same as the maximum weight of a Smilodon fatalis.  Grizzly bears are among the most aggressive of bears, and rarely back down from a conflict.  They have a huge shoulder hump of muscle that enables them to easily dig up tough earth, and gives them great power when swiping with their forelimbs.  Grizzly bears have claws on each paw that can exceed 4" in length, and these can be mighty weapons.  Smilodons were stocky & powerfully built, and were able to wrestle large prey items to the ground (with the help of a muscle-packed body and sharp, retractable claws) to impale them with their long upper canines (usually in a vulnerable, soft area like the throat).  A battle between these 2 animals will be close.  One potential deciding factor is the greater endurance of the grizzly bear (it can fight strongly for an extended amount of time).  The Smilodon will have more trouble landing a killing bite on the bear than on a typical prey item due to the bear's use of its forelimbs.  The grizzly bear's tough hairs on its body will likely offer better protection from attack than the Smilodon's hide will.  However, the ability for the Smilodon to tackle and subdue large prey animals can't be discounted.  The Smilodon can win if it gets into position soon after the onset of the battle, but the advantage will shift to the grizzly as the fight wears on.  The Smilodon populator will be favored at parity, but the grizzly bear will have a size and strength advantage here (and will have a better chance to control positioning).  A grizzly bear from coastal Alaska will typically weigh a lot more than one from any other region, and one of these giants will probably be a very tough challenge for any Smilodon.  Close to 50/50 overall.

Saltwater crocodile vs Nile crocodile: The saltwater crocodile is a little bit larger than the Nile crocodile when average and maximum weights are considered.  There's not a great deal of difference between these 2 reptiles.  Both have armored hides and tremendously strong jaws.  Both are capable of killing large animals by ambush.  It's debatable as to which one has more aggression, but any difference there is won't be enough to assign either reptile a noticeable advantage in a battle.  As with the bear matchup, the statement "the larger animal will win" applies here.  Edge to saltwater crocodile.

Snow leopard vs Florida panther: A Florida panther will be heavier on average than a snow leopard, and these 2 cats will actually be close at maximum weights.  Here's an answer for a puma vs snow leopard matchup from 6/27/14 ("Battle of the Cats"):

"A puma can weigh over 40% more than a snow leopard.  Pumas are extremely athletic cats with long legs and great leaping ability.  They are great hunters (masters of stealth), and can overpower large cervids by tackling them to the ground and finishing with a bite to the throat, snout, or back of the skull.  Snow leopards are capable hunters as well, and can overpower herbivores much larger than themselves.  Both cats have strong jaws, sharp teeth & claws, quickness & agility, and finishing know-how.  However, the puma has a decent size advantage here, and that can be key in a matchup of 2 animals with similar abilities.  Pumas can be quite combative (sometimes defending den sites against bears & wolves), and will be favored against the smaller snow leopard.  Puma wins."

The Florida panther is only about 3/4 the weight of cougars in other areas, but it still is a bit larger than a snow leopard on most occasions.  At average weights the cougar will win because it will be heavier and have similar capabilities as the snow leopard.  I have given this matchup (cougar vs snow leopard) a 50/50 at equal weights in the past.  At maximum weights the Florida panther will have a slight weight advantage, and will probably be slightly favored.  The panther will be about 15% taller at the shoulder, and will have a slight reach advantage in a "swipe war".  Overall edge to Florida panther.

Snow leopard vs spotted hyena: At maximum weights the spotted hyena will weigh about the same as a snow leopard, but the average hyena has a decent weight advantage over the average snow leopard.  Here is an answer for a matchup between these 2 animals at set weights from 8/12/13 ("Some matchups"):

"female spotted hyena (60kg) vs male snow leopard (50kg): This is a close fight.  It's basically durability, endurance, and a bone-crushing bite (hyena) vs quickness, agility, and sharp teeth & claws (snow leopard).  The snow leopard would use his superior mobility and speed to gain favorable positioning on the clumsier hyena, but the cat's jaws & claws would take time to make a serious dent in the hyena.  The snow leopard's best chance is to quickly secure a throat bite and hang on tight, but the threat of the hyena's jaws will make it difficult for the feline.  If the battle lasts more than a few minutes, the hyena will gain the advantage (the cat will tire).  However, snow leopards are superb hunters and know how to quickly dispatch animals much heavier than themselves.  In a normal confrontation, the hyena will send the cat packing, but in a fight to the death the snow leopard will have the slightest of edges."

In almost any situation where a single African leopard (up to 90kg) meets a large spotted hyena (usually no more than 70kg, but occasionally close to 80kg), the spotted hyena will typically dominate the encounter.  It's not because the leopard can't defeat the hyena in a serious battle (it can), but because the leopard can't afford to get injured in a meaningless scuffle and lose its ability to hunt effectively (and because a leopard knows that where there's one hyena, others are surely close by).  A snow leopard at average or maximum weights will back down from a hyena if put in the same situation, but it will have the ability to defeat the hyena in a serious fight if it has no other choice.  The snow leopard's speed, agility, and athleticism will be superior to the spotted hyena's (which can be a bit ungainly at times), and the cat's presence of claws will be a big advantage as well.  Hyenas are more comfortable hunting and fighting with help from other members of the clan.  The hyena will be more durable and have better stamina than the snow leopard, and its big bite will be the likely deciding factor in a realistic situation.  A spotted hyena might have some trouble preventing the snow leopard from securing a throat bite if the cat is determined to do so.  It depends on how you judge a fight; in a realistic encounter the spotted hyena will dominate, but in an encounter where the snow leopard must fight to survive, it will have the edge.  Close battle; depends on how you look at it.

Excellent matchups!

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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