What is the smallest land animal that a human could not defeat in hand to claw combat

Assuming no toxins allowed, what is the least massive land animal that, one on one, could regularly be expected to defeat a healthy determined human in naked hand to hand combat in an enclosed (say Roman Colosseum sized) fighting space?

I’m thinking possibly a baboon or wolverine.

Never mind…it’s GQ and mine was a WAG…


I’d say it would depend upon the man and upon the animal. Most animals would run away from a human rather than confront them in an area the size of the colisium.

Badger? We don’t need no steenking badger!

It sure would. On two legs, we have some cool advantages like reach and arms and forward kicking. I could simply lift something like a dog or badger off the ground and take it’s mobility away. Sure it might be latched onto my arm by the mouth and I’ll need some sutures but now I can work on choking it, eye gouging, dislocating those flailing legs, etc. Until we get to some big animals, we can probably beat most in this manner.

I can also think of some people who are healthy but would simply wet themselves and curl into a ball if an angry dog was barking and biting at them. Similarly, a trained and conditioned gladiator might beat an wolf that would eat me alive.

I assume we’re talking about dry land. I think a shark or alligator my weight could finish me off easily in water. Hmm…maybe an electric eel?
How big does a boa constrictor or 'gator need to get before it’s considered a maneater?

You measure, I’ll watch from the stands.

Hmm. I can’t say I’d like to go up against a wolverine, but I’d like to think I could win. OTOH, I seem to recall the bobcat taking down the occasional cyclist, (though I may actually be thinking of the larger lynx).

Is this a likewise determined animal, or do natural behaviours play any part?

Is a 51% win rate okay? On the far upper end of the scale, I nominate hippos, rhinos, and similar large mammals as having a 100% win rate, with the humans perhaps scoring the occasional lucky KO against lions and bears having a bad day.

jnglmassiv: That reminds me somewhat of The Bugle, which in the sports commentary section, called the lions vs. sharks match as depending heavily on home advantage.

If it was a Eurasian badger and it was (for some reason ) bent on your destruction, I think you could be in trouble. They weigh 25 pounds or more - you’d probably find it hard enough to hold a 25 pound sack of potatoes up with one arm for very long - replace that sack of potatoes with a stocky, squirming muscular animal, anchored to you through your skin and flesh and I think your resolve might be challenged.
Add to that they don’t really have the kind of neck you’d be able to throttle with your free hand, and they have formidable claws at the end of powerful legs - I think you could be going down.

The badger (again, assuming it had some reason to attack you with all its resources) may not kill you outright, but I’d say it has the means to put you at serious risk of life-threatening injury - most likely through laceration and blood loss.

According to this documentary, my vote goes to the shrew. :wink:

If not a European badger, the slightly larger Honey Badger is a formidable beast.

I’m going with the wolverine and badger suggested above, because of their fierceness and sturdy physiques.

The vorpal bunny?

Perhaps it’s just my opinion, but I don’t see a nice, tidy factual answer on this. So, let’s visit IMHO, where, despite the title of the forum, factual answers can be offered.

samclem General Questions Moderator

Have any of you ever tried to get control of an angry cat?

Yeah. I’ve had dozens throughout my life and even as a small child, none of them were ever capable of killing me outright. One good grip on their neck and it’s over.

I’m fairly certain an angry squirrel could kick my ass.

I was thinking something in the weasel family, like an ermine, could have a good chance of defeating a person if it got to the face.

Not even close. There’s no chance that thing is going to get close to my neck or anything vital. At 25lbs, I can step on it with one foot and step on its head/neck with the other. And that’s if three or four solid kicks didn’t work. It wouldn’t be fun and I’d want to have my scratches and bites looked at by a doctor but I can’t imagine a badger win.

Maybe a deer with antlers?

Really? They kill Moose. They try to drag dead elk away from freaking bears. Let me ask you this, if you saw a bear chowing down on a dead elk would you think “Hey, those are some prime cuts of meat being wasted on a big dumb bear who doesn’t even appreciate them. By gum, I’m going to go and take that elk home for myself!” or would you think “Holy shit, I’d better get out of here before that bear notices me and bites my $%^&ing face off!”

Wolverines opt for the former. Their balls are so big they don’t even carry them around with them, they leave them back in the house, mounted on the wall for all to see. It’s hard to walk when you only weigh 27 pounds and your nuts are eleven inches across.