This is an odd question:

Does this ever happen? A predator praying EXCLUSIVELY on another predator?

While thinking about this, I realized that this situation may actually never occur in nature, since predators tend to be low in numbers and therefore not a good species to prey on.

So then what if you MADE this happen - ie you force a situation where a predator (a), a non pack-type predator, cannot prey on anything other than the supplied prey(b), which is provided in prey-type quanities, but is in fact, another predator(b) (smaller, but again, a non pack type predator).

Sure. It happens all the time. For instance, certain snakes only eat frogs, and frogs only eat insects (and are technically predators).

hawks, eagles eat other smaller birds which eat insects. - well i guess the hawks and eagles also eat rodents that eat plants. - that exclusitivy clause in tough.

well, the smaller predator in this case is those cases are eating insects. Also these animal exist in the same ecosystem. The Hawk of the Snake are higher in the food chain.

What if I took a 2 nearly equal sized pradators from differnt geographic locations (ie they don’t normally meet) and put them together. Animals that within thier own respective foodchains, are approximately at the same level. What happens?

Spiders could do well eating other spiders.
King snakes can do the same.(with snakes)

The majority of fish are technically predators or scavengers, up and down the chain.

Sperm Whales feed on a wide variety of sea life, the vast majority of which are predators (the exception, however, is a rare 1998 sighting of sperm whales attacking a megamouth shark, which is a filter-feeder).

Sharks have attacked Killer Whales and vice versa. I guess your question is, does one predator routinely prey on another? Here you need to consider the level in the food chain occupied by the predators in question, e.g. “higher” and “lower” predators. Little fish prey on smaller fish, and bigger fish prey on little fish…

So the question is, ultimately, do really big (or nasty) fish predators prey on other equally big (or nasty) fish predators?

Answer is that they do, though I suspect that if they were given the choice they’d rather go for easier pickins.


Again I come here expecting to talk about Colonial Marines and Xenomorphs…

As Lure mentioned, this is quite common with snakes. Some are opportunist that will eat anything, like Kingsnakes ( famous for eating Rattlesnakes, but they will also take mice, birds, lizards, etc. ). But some have a very snake-specific diet like the King Cobra, as its genus name, Ophiophagus, would indicate. Another more obscure example is the Mussurana ( Clelia clelia ) of Latin America ( ever see one down there Colibri? ), which is an interesting animal in that it is both a constrictor and venomous ( rear-fanged ).

  • Tamerlane

One problem is the defiing line between predator and prey. Zoologists typically identify “prey” animals by certain physical traits. Eyes on the sides of the head for a broader range of vision, for example. This is an effective defensive trait, warning of anything sneaking up on you. Predators, on the other hand, have eyes that face forward, allowing them to target and chase with greater ease.

A predator animal that was routinely targeted by other, larger predators would have to evolve some prey-like defensive traits or be hunted out of existance. This muddies things up a bit.

If you want to revise your categories to carnivore and herbivore, you could ask “Are there any carnivores who exclusively eat other carnivores?” I can’t think of anything outside the snake family, myself.

Another factor that only occured to me later is the Laws of Thermodynamics. Nearly all biological energy on Earth has sunlight as its ultimate source. Ther plants absorb sunlight through photosynthesis, some animals eat the plants for this energy, other animals eat those animals for their energy etc.

Trouble is, the process is inefficient and gets more inefficient the further you go up the food chain. If, for example, the plants only absorb sunlight at 50% efficiency and the rabbits eating the plants only derive 50% efficiency and the foxes that eat the rabbits only derive 50% efficiency, the fox is only getting one-eighth of the potential energy. And some super-predator that ate foxes would get only half of that.

Also, as you work up the food chain, the process becomes more difficult. Grass can absorb sunlight by just sitting there; rabbits need only walk up to the grass; foxes have to chase rabbits and some fox-eating predator would have to chase foxes and kill them, requiring greater strength and speed. For the animals high up in the food chain, just getting a meal can involve a considerable investment in energy. An animal who lives off other predators would have to be an incredibly efficient killer, considering how little energy it gets from each kill.

A food chain containing a plant, insect, frog , snake and hawk can be sustained because the insect, frog and snake are not warm-blooded and thus don’t waste too much of their energy just in temperature regulation.

So, Bcullman, is what you’re really asking, “If I put a wolf and a lion together, will they eat each other?”

Sperm Whales and Giant Squids anyone?

If you see a wolf that is “nearly equal sized” to a lion, call Guinness. From a safe distance.

I’ve heard an amusing variant on this: when a bear fights an alligator, the winner is determined by the terrain.

I’ve seen footage of predators meeting by chance and it doesn’t always go to the death. The fight is resolved when one of them runs away, and that seems to be determined more by attitude than size or strength. I’ve seen a pair of cougars turn tail when confronted by a single badger, because the badger was obviously in no mood to take no shit from no god-damn cougar, you muthafuckin’ bastard!

Badgers are mean. Nobody messes with them.

Don’t the big cats (lions) in Africa also kill and eat the smaller cats, like leopards and cheetahs?

They probably kill them (when they can). It is fairly common among competing predators to eliminate competition (which is why house cats that are allowed to roam frequently fall victim to dogs, foxes, coyotes, etc.)
I don’t recall that the lions actually eat any competitors they kill (outside a drouth/famine situation).

Although someone pointed out that wolfs and lions are not the same size - yes this is exactly what I’m talking about. What would happen when 2 predators of equal size, that do not normally interact with one another, are put together? Moreover, what happens I I deliberately skew the numbers so that one of them out numbers the other, but neither of which are normally pack hunters.

Will one of the species be forced into evoloving triats that help in that situation (ie pack hunting, careing for young (since they must now be watched at all times, prey characteristics like camoflage and other defensive chracteristics)

Or will one simply wipe out the other.

How about bears and lions. suppose i have a group of 200 lions and 2500 bear. No other species. What is going to happen?

Probably depends on the kind of bear. Russian browns, Kodiaks, or especially polar bears, could probably do well enough against a lion. They’d outweigh the lions by 3 or 4 to 1. Regular grizzlies would most likely hold their own as well.

Black bears, sun bears, or sloth bears would probably have a rough go of it.

Lions can work in concert to take down prey that significantly outweigh them, like water buffalo. As far as I know, bears hunt alone. But your point’s valid.

Well, until someone organizes “Ultimate Predator Pit Fighting”, we won’t have any data on who-beats-who.

Good point. But even a pride of lions won’t take on a healthy, adult bull buffalo because of the risk of injury to a bunch of them. What good is killing your prey if y’all die from your wounds?

Why am I debating this?

Oh, yeah, now I remember what is what I meant to say…

Polar bears. They eat seals almost exclusively, except when they raid the garbage dump in Churchill, Manitoba.