Predator or Prey

Predator or Prey

Predator: an animal that catches and feeds on other animals.

It’s no secret that in the big, wild world of nature, if you don’t somehow defend yourself form hungry predators, sooner or later you’re going to wind up as prey — that is, some predator's lunch. The only exceptions to this rule of nature are top, or apex, predators that are too big, powerful or dangerous to be attacked by another kind of animal. For example, a Bengal tiger is more likely to be killed by another Bengal tiger, a bullet, a snare, a disease, or a parasite, than another kind of predator.

Can you name a few other non-human top predators?

Often, predators are easy to spot by their long, curved claws and fang-like canine teeth in their upper jaws.

Prey: an animal or plant that is caught and eaten by another animal.

Then there are prey. Many plant-eating animals such as rats, zebras, and rabbits are examples of animals that are almost always prey. By the way, animals that eat plants are considered herbivores and predators.

Can you name a non-human animal that is both a predator and another animal’s prey?

The American alligator is one example: Adult alligators are top predators. But baby alligators become prey for snakes, fishes, birds, and even larger alligators.

How do predators help maintain prey populations?

Just ask people living in the African villages who place ball pythons (snakes) in agricultural areas to control vast numbers crop-munching rodents.

Can you imagine a world where, suddenly, all the predators were gone?
What types of animals would be overrunning the world?
What would happen to both wild and crop plants?

Note: Because it takes a lot of rodents or other prey animals to feed one predator, prey animals are normally more abundant than predators in a given natural community.


Fun Facts

Did you know that some kangaroos live in trees? Zoo Miami is working with conservationists in northern New Guinea to study and protect wild Matschie's tree kangaroos.
Fun Fact - tree kangaroo

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