Animals Top Predators Fear The Most
Let's go on a safari to meet the animals top predators fear the most!Animals
Our world is home to a whole host of fearsome animals who have no trouble taking down just about any human they come across. Lions, and tigers, and bears! But as scary as they may seem, even these beasts have a few creatures that scare them.
From the weirdly adorable animal that somehow preys upon Great White Sharks, to the phenomenal furry feline that strikes fear into the hearts of bears, here are some of the animals that top predators fear the most.
Sharks Are Afraid Of Dolphins
What would you say is the ocean’s top predator? If you’ve ever seen the movie, ‘Jaws’, you’ll probably go with Great White Sharks. And with good reason! They can reach up to 20 feet long and weigh 5,000 pounds, that’s roughly the same weight as 30 average humans.
From tuna to seals, dolphins to whales, there’s virtually nothing that this aquatic assassin won’t sink its teeth into. And speaking of teeth, great white sharks are armed with more than 300 razor sharp gnashers, made for tearing through the flesh of their prey.
But as strange as it sounds, there’s an animal that even Great White Sharks swim away from in fear. Bottlenose dolphins are seen as nature’s adorably squeaky, ocean playmates, and at their largest they come in at just under 10 ft long and less than 600 lbs, so you may think they are hardly a threat to gargantuan great whites.
However, they’ll fiercely defend themselves and their pod if attacked. While lacking in razor sharp teeth, these dolphins are fast and agile, allowing them to quickly outmaneuver and attack predators with their snouts.
Swimming at a top speed of 25 miles an hour, they slam into would-be predators with the power of a low-level car crash! A well-placed shot on a great white’s belly can damage their internal organs, while a powerful hit to their gills can disrupt their oxygen intake from the water, which can be fatal.
Considering that bottlenose dolphin pods contain around 15 individuals, it’s no surprise that great white sharks are so fearful when they swim into these menacing mammals. Imagine 15 fleshy battering rams smashing into your body!
But bottlenose dolphins don’t just protect themselves from sharks! In 2004, four humans were saved from a great white shark by a pod of do-good dolphins in New Zealand. The group of dolphins swam in tight circles around the swimmers, pushing them together. They tried to swim away, but the dolphins herded them back in.
All of a sudden, the swimmers spotted a 10 ft great white shark just a few feet away from them. Amazingly, the dolphins kept swimming around them, like personal bodyguards, until the shark lost interest. Forget dogs, bottlenose dolphins are man’s real best friend!
Although, surprisingly, dolphins aren’t the only marine animals to give great white sharks a fright. Orca’s or Killer Whales, which aren’t whales, but are technically dolphins, also attack great white sharks. Stretching over 26 feet in length and weighing around 12,000 pounds, it’s no surprise that these massive mammals can happily square up to supersized sharks.
But even with their size advantage, the way that orca’s attack the sharks is shocking! In the 1990s, an orca was observed ramming into a great white off the coast of San Francisco in the United States. The impact of the blow stunned the shark. At which point the mammal flipped the shark upside down.
When upturned, some sharks enter a state of paralysis, known as tonic immobility. This can last up to 15 minutes, giving the killer whale enough time to suffocate the shark by dragging it to the surface and out of the water.
They may not be whales, but they’re definitely called killers and for good reason! After slaying the great white, the orca ate the shark’s liver, a nutritious snack thanks to its high levels of fats and oils.
Unlike their bottlenose brethren, who generally leave shark carcasses alone in favor of a smaller mouthful, this dissection wasn’t a one-off. Many liverless great white shark carcasses are found washed ashore; in 2017 alone, 4 liverless great white carcasses washed up in South Africa’s western cape in as many days! No prizes for guessing who was responsible.
Orcas And Pilot Whales
With their hardcore diet of Great White Shark liver, Orcas are at the top of the ocean food chain. Aside from their massive size and fierce reputation, they can swim as fast as 34 miles per hour, and hunt in pods of up to 30 members. This helps them take down even larger prey than great white sharks.
As crazy as it sounds, in 2019, Orcas were recorded killing a 72-foot-long blue whale. For context, the White House is 70 feet tall. Basically, they’re up for snacking on any animal below the waterline. Well, almost any animal.
Pilot whales are the second largest oceanic dolphins, exceeded in size only by killer whales. But don’t let their big build fool you, they’re not very dangerous. So, why are killer whales, animals that literally make a meal out of great white sharks, afraid of them?
Pilot whales off the southern coast of Australia have been observed mimicking the calls of killer whales, and scientists believe that this copycat approach serves as a defense from these oceanic assassins.
Male killer whales from different pods can be aggressive towards one another and fight to the death to protect their herd! So, these hunters often flee at the sound of their own kind from across the ocean.
But even without this mimicking sound, Orcas still flee from Pilot whales. Researchers in the Westman Islands, off the coast of Iceland, discovered that whenever a group of pilot and killer whales were seen near each other, the Pilot whales chased off their larger relatives.
One theory for this strange behavior is that the two species are competing for prey. But this is unlikely, because Icelandic killer whales mainly eat herring, while pilot whales snack on squid. The other theory is that it’s anti-predator mobbing behavior; some prey animals mob their predators to rob them of an easy meal.
But killer whales don’t tend to dine on pilot whales, so it’s not clear why they’d display this behavior. It’s possible that pilot whales aren’t aware that killer whales aren’t a threat, so they just mob them anyway! It’s probably better to be safe than sorry.
Elephants Are Very Scared Of Bees
Although they don’t dine on meat, elephants are one of the most dangerous animals on the planet. When defending their young, they’ll charge at anything they deem a threat at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour, that’s around the same pace as Usain Bolt!
And don’t forget that they can weigh up to 7 tons, and come armed with sharp tusks. Basically, you really don’t want to mess with them unless you’re an African honeybee. Watch the clip below to see what a group of resting elephants did when researchers played an innocuous honeybee buzzing sound. They look like they’re running for their lives!
Despite having skin some half and inch thick, elephants are sensitive to stings around their mouth, eyes, ears, and trunk. In 2002, a Kenyan elephant was stung so badly around the eyes by these buzzing terrors that it was blinded. It was only after injections, that the swelling finally subsided, allowing the elephant to see again.
These brainy bees release chemical substances called pheromones when they sense a threat. The pheromones act like an alarm signal, alerting more African honeybees to help. But it’s not just fellow bees that can detect this. Elephants too, can detect when bees aren’t in the mood for making friends. And what does that lead to? A stampede.
But it’s not just bees that frighten the largest land-dwelling mammals on Earth! Distant tales report that these humungous herbivores are also scared of pigs. ‘War pigs’ as they were known, were used by ancient Romans to frighten the enemy’s war elephants.
The Romans learned that the squeal of pigs sent the elephants into a frenzy. So, when the pigs were near the elephants, they coated them with tar. As the hogs were set alight, they let out an almighty squeal to send the elephant’s stomping in the opposite direction.
Lions And Honey Badgers
Elsewhere on the African plains, there’s a more ominous animal that strikes fear into the hearts of elephants: lions. And who can blame them? From gazelles to giraffes, rhinos to hippos, there’s not much that these carnivorous cats won’t sink their canines into.
Whether it’s those flesh-tearing teeth or their thundering roar, if you see this beast in the wild, run as far as your little legs will take you! But running may not save you, as lions can reach speeds of up to 50 miles per hour.
And forget about climbing to safety, because these big cats can leap a terrifying 12 feet into the air! It’s not surprising that most animals stay as far away as possible from lions. Well, all but one.
From its name alone, the Honey Badger may not sound like a threat! It also only weighs about 35 pounds and looks pretty cute at first glance! But be warned, it ain’t no badger, and it don’t take prisoners.
The only living species of the genus Mellivora, these feisty little devils are more closely related to weasels than they are to badgers. But unlike a weasel, they’re so gutsy that they’ve earnt a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s most fearless animal!
Even so, you might think that anything taking on a lion had a death wish. Luckily, a Honey Badger has a plan up its furry sleeves. For starters, these creatures aren’t afraid to rush at lions, with hackles raised and a rasping growl to match.
If the shock factor isn’t enough to frighten these big cats up a tree, the incoming stench definitely is. Honey Badgers squirt out a potent liquid from their anal glands, which basically acts like a stink bomb, to keep large predators away.
Even if these guys end up in the jaws of a ferocious feline, they have another party trick ready to blow. Honey Badgers are armed with an exceptionally tough hide, capable of withstanding big cat bites! But that’s not all. Their skin’s rubbery and extremely loose. So, if they end up in the jaws of a lion, they can sometimes wriggle their way free!
They’re basically a furry, rage filled bar of soap, although they don’t smell like one! Even when these stinky souls aren’t under threat from lions, they still want a fight. Stoffel, a honey badger at a South African wildlife center, escaped out of his enclosure to fight the lions in a cage next-door.
He was so determined to break out and fight, that he built a tower out of rocks and mud to climb over the wall. Looks like their place in the Guinness Book of World Records is well deserved!
Eagle VS Raccoon
Bald eagles are the rulers of the North American skies. Whether it’s their giant 7-ft 5-inch wingspan, their hooked talons that are the same size as a human hand, or their ability to soar through the skies at speeds of 100 miles per hour.
Plus, with their meat-heavy diet of small mammals, fish, and occasionally larger animals, like young deer, no animal wants to get on their bad side. But, despite their fearsome reputation, bald eagles have sleepless nights over the thought of one creature.
Raccoons are more known for rummaging through garbage than for striking fear into the hearts of bald eagles. Yet occasionally these mammals will climb into a bald eagle nest and eat either an unhatched eagle egg, or even a baby eaglet.
Sounds like a dangerous game of raccoon roulette. So how are these scavengers able to get away with such risky behavior without being torn to shreds? When food access is low, bald eagle parents spend less time in the nest as they’re busy foraging meals for their young. And, when the parents are away, the raccoons will eat.
With no one to protect them, the eaglets, or bald eagle eggs, are practically defenseless from ravenous raccoons. But bald eagles aren’t the only big birds with these big problems. Tristan Albatrosses found on Gough Island, in the South Atlantic Ocean, have a huge 10-foot wingspan and feast on squid and fish.
At that size, you’d think that these supersized sea birds would be able to cope with most animal threats! However, there’s one cute critter that’s become the scourge of these birds. Gangs of house mice have been caught attacking and killing these sea bird chicks in their nests. But, unlike raccoons, the menacing mice don’t stop there.
In 2017, scientists discovered that the rodents were also killing adult albatross, despite the birds being 300 times the size of the mice! It’s believed that the dedicated albatross parents let the mice nibble on their flesh while they incubate their eggs. If a wound’s small enough, the seabird may recover but larger lacerations can be fatal.
Because the mice were only introduced to Gough Island in the 19th century, scientists believe that the albatross haven’t yet evolved a response to these attacks. So, for the time being, these hungry house mice will continue to dine on Tristan Albatrosses for dinner.
Jaguars vs Otters
Jaguars are the largest cat species found in the Americas, weighing in at over 200 pounds when fully grown. And, with a bite powerful enough to pierce through tortoise and turtle shells, these felines don’t play nice.
But it’s not just shelled species that they have their eyes on! Don’t be surprised to see one carrying a caiman or even an anaconda in its jaws. What’s even more metal is their unusual killing methods. They bite directly through the skull of their prey to deliver a fatal blow to the brain.
However, along the Amazon River in South America, there’s one animal that won’t succumb to the jaguar’s jaws. Adorable as they may look, giant river otters are actually formidable predators.
They’re more than happy to snack on birds, small mammals, snakes, fish, and even caimans and piranha! So, what happens when they face off with a jaguar? One curious cat found out the hard way:
Turns out there’s power in numbers! But for otters, there’s also power in the water; with their webbed feet, long streamlined bodies, and sharp canine teeth, giant otters rule the Amazonian waterways.
To make matters even scarier for the jaguars, giant otter groups can be as many as 20. Considering that these cute creatures are happy to chew through caimans and piranhas, it’s not surprising jaguars need to think twice before taking a dip in the water!
Gorilla Fear Caterpillars
Thanks to their bodybuilder-like brawn and up to 500-pound weight, gorillas don’t have any natural predators. If they do sense a threat, the males become very aggressive, pounding their chest and roaring to scare the threat into submission.
Not much of a mystery why no one’s taking gorillas on. If you’ve seen the movie, ‘Godzilla vs Kong’, you might think that the only animals that gorillas fear are monsters empowered by nuclear radiation.
Yet, these enormous apes actually tremble over something much smaller. Though they may look like the kings of the jungle, these guys have a crippling fear of bugs and reptiles. And I’m not talking about giant pythons or monster millipedes; they’re scared of critters like chameleons and caterpillars.
Young gorillas in particular have been observed to avoid these animals as if their lives depended on it. However, it’s not understood why these great apes fear these almost entirely harmless creatures. Maybe the horror of Godzilla has traumatized generations of gorillas to run in terror whenever they see anything closely resembling a radioactive lizard?
If insects and reptiles weren’t bad enough, one gorilla at a zoo in Kansas was even seen running away from a goose. Granted, geese are scary, but maybe we should revoke the gorilla’s reputation for being kings of the jungle.
Bears And Alligators Fear Cats
Black Bears may look big and scary, but attacks on humans aren’t common as they’re rarely aggressive. However, females defending their young and dominant males can become aggressive, with 67 people killed by black bears attacks in North America since 1900.
But there’s an animal capable of making black bears flee in fear! It’s got sharp claws, cutting canines and rapid reflexes. But it’s not some sort of bear-hunting wolf, it’s cats! Your feline friend can give these burly beasts a right fright.
They’re small, fast, and agile, making them tricky for a lumbering 7-foot bear to hit. Plus, if they feel threatened, these ferocious felines will attack with their sharp claws and teeth. Their ability to jump high means that they can even target the bear’s neck and face. Although they can’t reach a bear’s vital organs, they’re still able to rip through their skin and draw blood.
This will cost time and resources for the stricken bear to heal, and even worse, the wounds could become infected. With not much to gain, but plenty to lose from a scuffle, it’s often the case that these massive mammals would rather flee than fight.
If bears weren’t enough of a challenge for cats, there’ve also been numerous cases of tabby’s taking on alligators! Like bears, alligators are taken aback by the unpredictability of feisty felines. It also helps the kitties that these encounters happen on land, where a gator is much less comfortable.
But truth be told, if these two ever got into a fight, there’s only one winner. A cat’s claws aren’t strong enough to penetrate an alligator’s hide. And battling a mouth that can deliver a bite with a force of more than 2,100 psi compared to a cat’s meager 70 psi, no cat would have much chance of winning a battle with a gator!
Hippos And Crocodiles
Crocodiles are one of nature’s top predators. In fact, they’re so lethal that croc attacks on humans are 100 times deadlier than shark attacks, and far more frequent. The Nile crocodile, from central and southern Africa is responsible for most of these human fatalities.
It’s no wonder, considering that a 20-foot-long male can be as wide as 5 feet and weigh in at a bulky 1,500 pounds. Unsurprisingly, these carnivores will eat just about anything they can get their teeth into. Whether it’s fish, birds, or larger animals like zebra and wildebeest. However, like alligators, these reptiles are also vulnerable to a surprise attack.
As cute as a little hippo looks, these semiaquatic mammals can be extremely dangerous when they're all grown up. In fact, 500 humans are killed by hippos every year. While they appear calm in the water, hippos flip into a defensive rage mode when threatened. And, with a huge skull, bearing a foot and a half long tusk-like teeth, they can deliver a bite with some 1800 psi!
In theory, that’s enough to snap a crocodile in half. Equipped with these chunky choppers, hippos can make light work of ripping through the tough hide of a crocodile. And, while a croc could certainly bite a hippo’s leg, it would be impossible to perform its infamous death roll move.
Normally crocs grip their prey in their jaws, before rapidly rotating in the water to disable, dismember, and kill their meal. However, it’s not quite so easy when that meal weighs an enormous 4 tons!
It also doesn’t land in the crocs favor when they’re faced with an angry heard of more than 30 hippos, all hell bent on defending their calves and destroying the croc! Turns out that crocodiles have learned to not mess with these guys.
Donkeys Keep Coyotes Away
As a close relative of wolves, it’s no surprise that coyotes are formidable hunters. They use their excellent sight and smell to track their catch, hounding their prey at speeds of up to 42 miles per hour; so fast, there’s little chance of escape.
These carnivorous canines look to kill as quickly as possible, typically attacking by biting the prey in the throat, and maintaining a grip until the animal suffocates or dies of internal bleeding.
With such an effective method of hunting, they have plenty on the menu. Whether it’s rodents, birds, larger mammals like deer and elk, or even livestock like goats and sheep. But there’s one lovable animal that coyotes wouldn’t dare try to take down.
Harmless as they may look, it turns out donkeys have a nasty side. These hoofed herbivores have evolved a natural aggression towards wild dogs, so whenever they see an animal of this family, they’ll become irritated and charge at the canine.
So, farmers had the ingenious idea of using donkeys to protect their livestock! In Colorado, United States, over 99% of sheep ranchers use donkeys to safeguard their animals from coyotes. But why exactly should coyotes fear donkeys? For starters, donkeys will warn off any predators by braying very, very loudly.
If the coyote still doesn’t get the message, then the donkeys get physical. These herbivores come with a blunt but strong bite measuring in at some 500 psi, more than double that of a human’s. But the donkey’s most lethal weapon is in its legs. If they land an accurate kick around the coyote’s head, it can be powerful enough to critically injure, and even kill the animal!
And back in 2014, one donkey called Buck from South Carolina, took things even further. His owner Steve had brought him in to live in a pasture by himself, when one day he spotted a coyote making a beeline for Buck.
And even though Buck wasn’t defending another herd of animals, he didn’t like that at all. Before the coyote had a chance, Buck grabbed it by the neck, before stomping it into the ground.
Shocked, Steve managed to snap a few photos of Buck slinging the coyote around like a rag doll! Looks like donkeys really put the ass in kick-ass! If you were amazed at these animals that top predators fear, you might want to read our article about the power of numbers in the animal kingdom. Thanks for reading!