Interspecies Conflict/Jaguar vs Gorilla


Hi Again BK, hope all is well. Thank you for clearing up the whole Leopard/Zebra debate last week, although Im still pretty questionable on it we could agree to disagree which is the fun part about this website.

Now on the Topic of debatable subjects I the Jaguar vs Gorilla matchup is one of them. Now I've read some past answers on this matchup and most experts favor the jaguar and your one of them. Now I agree with you on this one but don't you think this match could go differently than what we both expect? Now I understand that the Jaguar is more agile, better armed, and more battle tested but the gorilla still has a good size advantage over the Jaguar, not to mention its grabbing arms, formidable canines, and I would think a strength advantage. Now here's an answer given a long time ago to a reader named Harris. The question was titled Hi and it was from 11/20/07. Here goes Gorilla vs Jaguar-Jaguar, it is more agile and perhaps equal to or stronger than a gorilla. The jaguar is the strongest cat pound for pound and it could very well be stronger than a male gorilla. I know there fighting abilities very well and I think it would prevail over a gorilla. Jaguar 7/10 times. Now I could agree with the jaguar winning but I find it very doubtful that its stronger than the gorilla. But i'll leave that up to you to answer. Putting in the fact that leopards hunt gorillas could prove something aswell here but leopards ambush gorillas and obviously don't take them on face to face. My final thought on this is I back the jaguar to win but it could definitely go the other way. So there is my review of this matchup what do you think?


Hello Gian.

Jaguar vs Gorilla discussion: Here is a recent answer ("Battles" from 4/2/16) I gave regarding this matchup:

"A jaguar will weigh about 2/3rd the gorilla's weight.  Jaguars are widely considered to be the strongest cat pound-for-pound, and they have stocky bodies with short, powerful legs.  Their bite force is high enough to pierce turtle shells and caiman armor, and they typically bite through a victim's skull or spine to dispatch it.  Jaguars sometimes haul heavy prey items into trees (much like leopards do in Africa) to escape rising flood waters.  Gorillas are muscular animals with strong bites (and sharp 2" teeth), powerful forearms (spanning about 8 1/2ft), and grabbing hands.  Gorillas aren't accustomed to taking on large animals of another species, and won't have the know-how to bring their impressive physical attributes to bear in a fight with a jaguar (what they look like they can do and what they actually will do are 2 different things).  Gorillas typically resort to bluffing when hostilities arise with other gorillas, but any serious fighting involves pulling, biting, and pounding (although blows that land may be more inadvertent than precise).  If a gorilla was more experienced at fighting other types of animals, its physical attributes would certainly give it the ability to defeat a jaguar most of the time.  As is, however, that's not the case.  An angry gorilla might succeed in intimidating a jaguar into a retreat on some occasions (and perhaps most occasions), but a jaguar intent on completing a kill should be able to do so more times than not.  The jaguar's crushing bite, sharp claws, and killing experience will be enough to overcome the gorilla's size and strength.  The cat will close in on the gorilla and use its agility and quickness to find a good location to sink its teeth into.  Edge to jaguar."

Here are a few points I will add to this to address your question:

* I agree with you that a gorilla is likely stronger than a jaguar (at absolute weights and perhaps pound-for-pound).  A jaguar's muscles are geared for power (strength + speed) as opposed to just brute strength, and the gorilla (which doesn't need to have the same "burst of speed" ability as the jaguar) has muscles geared more toward brute strength.  I would feel quite comfortable saying that a 460lb gorilla has more brute strength than a 300lb jaguar.

* I definitely believe that this fight could go the gorilla's way on occasion, and on most occasions it's possible that the gorilla will drive the jaguar away.  There would undoubtedly be times where the gorilla, although less experienced in combat, succeeds in using its huge arms to strike (perhaps inadvertently) and grab the jaguar with some effect or land a couple of damaging bites that turn the tide of the fight.  I believe the closest "big cat" matchup for a silverback gorilla is the jaguar, and I do slightly favor the cat in a serious battle.

* If gorillas were experienced at fighting other animals (and not just other gorillas), I would favor them over jaguars.  It's true leopards have killed gorillas by ambush (or when the apes were sleeping), but a face-to-face encounter with a full-sized silverback probably won't go well for the leopard (and the cat will likely flee before anything gets physical).  I'll use the baboon as an example to illustrate my point.  This isn't a super example because jaguars and leopards aren't equally formidable pound-for-pound (kind of close though) and gorillas and baboons aren't equally formidable pound-for-pound, but I use it in hopes it's good enough.  Baboons live around leopards and have a decent degree of experience fighting with them and defending themselves from the spotted cats.  A 90lb male baboon will easily drive away the average leopard even though it is giving up a lot of weight.  The leopard may win a serious fight to the death, but can be injured in the scuffle enough to jeopardize its life or ability to hunt.  A maximum-sized gorilla can weigh about 50% more than a maximum-sized jaguar, so let's apply that ratio to the leopard and the baboon.  A 90lb baboon will weigh 50% more than a 60lb leopard (which would realistically have to be a Cape or Arabian one), and a battle between them will heavily favor the monkey.  So why not favor the gorilla?  Experience.  If gorillas had lived in the Amazon jungle for many generations and became accustomed to dealing with attacking jaguars, they would have a better idea of what to do if one of the cats attacked (and would likely be favored against one face-to-face).  As is stands now, the gorilla is really only experienced at fighting other gorillas, and a jaguar offers a different type of attack (claws, killing bite, etc.) than another gorilla does.

* I agree with you with your final thought ("I back the jaguar to win but it could definitely go the other way").  I've seen videos of angry gorillas charging through the jungle toward the camera and think "what big cat could stand up to that?".  Face-to-face, I would only back the jaguar, lion (and lioness), and the tiger (Sumatran and heavier).  The biggest factor that sways me to the jaguar's side is fighting experience.  A jaguar battles a variety of dangerous animals and knows how to "finish".  A gorilla does not.

* The "baboon vs leopard" wasn't the greatest example in the world to use, so I'll share another one.  Kangaroos are practiced at defending themselves from dingoes.  If you introduced cougars to Australia and they shared the same habitat as the kangaroos, the kangaroos would be in big trouble.  Cougars know how to bring down a variety of prey items (including ones that weigh a lot more than kangaroos), and they would quickly learn that the kangaroos would be good prey targets.  A kangaroo doesn't deal with any clawed predator that can leap upon them like a large cat can, and would have trouble defending itself against the cougar.  A jaguar would be more comfortable in its attempts to overpower a gorilla than the gorilla would be in its attempts to defend itself.

* With matchups using animals from separate parts of the world (where they can't interact in reality), there is a greater degree of uncertainty in proclaiming a winner than with matchups involving animals that actually interact.  Who would guess that a Southern grasshopper mouse could easily kill a scorpion (hard exoskeleton, pincers, venomous tail stinger) without seeing it happen?  If they (mouse and scorpion) didn't interact in reality, it would be easy to favor the scorpion.  Nature can be surprising at times.    

* In summation, I think we pretty much agree on the "jaguar vs gorilla" matchup.  Your review is very good, and I agree with it.

Best regards.  

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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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