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23 Animals that Track Prey (A to Z List & Pictures)

animals that track prey

Examples of animals that track prey include African wild dogs, alligators, crocodiles, wolves, and dolphins.

Tracking is a useful skill for all animals. The ability to follow the trail of prey or predators helps an animal find food or avoid becoming food.

As humans, we may not be as versed in the art of tracking as some other animals are but it’s still fascinating to learn about how these amazing creatures use their senses and instinct to pursue prey.

Examples of Animals that Track Prey

Animals that hunt prey have developed a variety of clever ways to do so. Some have evolved to track prey using their sense of smell, sight, or hearing.

There are also animals that will deliberately leave behind clues in order to lure the animal out into the open where they can hunt it more easily.

1. African Wild Dog

african wild dog
Scientific NameLycaon pictus
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeAfrica
DietCarnivore

The African Wild Dog is one of the most efficient predators in Africa thanks to its incredible teamwork. The dogs work together using their noses, eyes, and ears to track prey over vast areas.

They often wear down their target until it collapses from exhaustion before they attack! A pack of wild dogs can take on anything from zebra and antelope to buffalo, and will often even take on young elephants.

2. Alligators

alligator
Scientific NameAlligator
Type of AnimalReptile
Range the United States
DietCarnivore

An alligator’s hunting technique is based on its excellent sense of smell. The reptile will lie in the water and quickly open its jaws as soon as it smells nearby prey, snapping up a victim with each bite.

3. Asian Giant Hornet

Asian Giant Hornet
Scientific NameVespa mandarinia
Type of AnimalInsect
RangeEast Asia, South Asia
DietCarnivore

70-80 word descriptionThe Asian Giant Hornet is a type of hornet with some impressive hunting and tracking abilities.

They can locate their prey by detecting the carbon dioxide that it exhales, and they even use this method to find potential food sources while foraging.

4. Black Egrets

Scientific NameEgretta ardesiaca
Type of AnimalBird
RangeMadagascar
DietCarnivore

Black Egrets are a great example of an animal that uses its sense of sight to track prey. They are able to spot their prey from long distances and will often wait in trees until the perfect opportunity arises to strike.

5. Black-Footed Cat

Scientific NameFelis nigripes
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangesouthern African countries
DietCarnivore

The black-footed cat is a small wildcat that hunts in the grasslands and open savannas of Africa. With its coloration, it can easily blend into tall grasses where it lies in wait for prey to pass by.

Its extremely sharp hearing allows it to locate prey even when there isn’t any visible movement nearby. In fact, the black-footed cat can hear prey moving up to a kilometer away.

6. Bottlenose Dolphins

Bottlenose Dolphin
Scientific NameTursiops
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeWorldwide
DietCarnivore

Dolphins are known for their intelligence and playful nature. They have also developed a clever way to hunt prey. Bottlenose dolphins use echolocation to track down fish.

This involves emitting a high-pitched sound that bounces off of the fish, allowing the dolphin to determine its location.

7. Cheetahs

cheetah
Scientific NameAcinonyx jubatus
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeAfrica
DietCarnivore

Cheetahs use their speed to chase down prey and catch them before they escape. This is known as the “stalk-and-ambush” method of hunting. With this strategy, cheetahs will slowly stalk their prey until they are close enough to chase them down.

8. Cougar

cougar
Scientific NamePuma concolor
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeCanada south to Patagonia
DietCarnivore

Cougars are predators that hunt prey by climbing trees, jumping down on top of them, and killing them with sharp teeth. They can also track their prey using sight, hearing, or nose to find the location of their next meal.

9. Crocodiles

crocodiles
Scientific NameCrocodylidae
Type of AnimalReptile
RangeWorldwide
DietCarnivore

Crocodiles are deadly predators, known for dragging their prey into the water to drown them. They have a keen sense of smell which they use to track prey on land.

10. Dragonflies

dragonfly
Scientific NameAnisoptera
Type of AnimalInsect
RangeWorldwide
DietCarnivore

Dragonflies are a great example of an animal that uses its sense of sight to track prey. Their large eyes allow them to see in all directions, and they can even track prey underwater. This makes them effective predators of both flying and swimming insects.

11. Grizzly Bears

grizzly bear
Scientific NameUrsus arctos horribilis
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeAlaska, Wyoming, Montana
DietOmnivore

Grizzly bears are one of the most feared animals in North America. This is largely due to their ability to hunt prey using a combination of sight and smell. They are also known for being very aggressive when they attack.

12. Harris’s Hawks

Harris's Hawk
Scientific NameParabuteo unicinctus
Type of AnimalBird
Rangesemiopen desert lowlands
DietCarnivore

Harris’s Hawks, for example, use their excellent vision to spot prey from a distance. Once they have located their target, they fly in close and start circling it, gradually getting closer until they can snatch it up with their talons.

13. Leopards

leopard
Scientific NamePanthera pardus
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeAfrica
DietCarnivore

Leopards are a great example of an animal that has developed hunting techniques for tracking prey. They have powerful jaws and teeth, large canine teeth, and muscular legs which they use to run at speeds up to 80 miles per hour

A cheetah’s keen eyesight helps them identify their next meal from long distances away as well as track it if the prey tries to run.

14. Lions

A lion watching zebra in the distance
Scientific NamePanthera leo
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeAfrica
DietCarnivore

Lions are known for their prowess as hunters. They are able to track prey by following the scent of their quarry. This ability is so well-developed that lions can even follow a trail that has been covered up by rain.

15. Matabele Ants

Scientific NameMegaponera analis
Type of AnimalInsect
Rangesub-Saharan Africa
DietOmnivore

Matabele ants are an interesting example of an animal that uses its sense of smell to track prey. These ants live in Africa and hunt termites.

They have a highly developed sense of smell which allows them to follow the chemical trail left by the termites.

16. Painted Redstart

Painted Redstart
Scientific NameMyioborus pictus
Type of AnimalBird
RangeCentral America and Mexico
DietCarnivore

A bird named the Painted Redstart uses a tracking technique that is similar to how dogs and cats use their sense of smell. Birds have a very acute sense of smell, but it’s usually contained in one place instead of spreading evenly around them like mammals.

So when this redstart hunts, she takes advantage of her ability by using her long, pointed beak to search for and eat lizards that might hide under rocks or in small crevices.

17. Pelican Spiders

Scientific NameArchaeidae
Type of AnimalAnthropod
RangeSouth Africa, Australia, and Madagascar
DietCarnivore

The pelican spider is a unique arachnid that uses both sight and smell to track prey. These spiders have two large, forward-facing eyes that give them excellent vision.

They also have eight smaller eyes that allow them to see in all directions at once. Pelican spiders use their keen sense of sight to find prey walking on the ground.

18. Pit Vipers

pit viper
Scientific NameCrotalinae
Type of AnimalReptile
Rangedeserts to rainforests
DietCarnivore

Pit vipers such as rattlesnakes and copperheads have heat-sensing pits that sense the body heat of their prey. These pit sensors are located between the snake’s eyes and nostrils, and can even detect a warm mouse almost 30 feet away.

This means snakes don’t need to see or smell their prey in order to know where it is.

19. Polar Bears

polar bears
Scientific NameUrsus maritimus
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangethe Arctic
DietCarnivore

Polar Bears have been known to track their prey by following the trail of a seal’s scent. They will track this scent for as long as it takes, sometimes swimming 50 miles in one day.

The polar bear has an excellent sense of smell and can detect even faint trails at great distances.

20. Secretary Birds

Secretary Bird
Scientific NameSagittarius serpentarius
Type of AnimalBird
RangeAfrica
DietCarnivore

The secretary bird is a large, terrestrial bird found in Africa. This raptor has evolved to hunt prey by using its excellent sense of sight.

The secretary bird typically waits for prey to cross its path before striking quickly and dispatching it with its powerful beak.

21. Spotted Hyenas

hyena
Scientific NameCrocuta crocuta
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeAfrica
DietCarnivore

The spotted hyena is the only member of the Hyaenidae family that actually hunts! This animal takes advantage of its sense of smell to track down prey, even through dense grasslands.

It will follow a scent trail for miles until it finds an opportune moment to pounce on its prey and rip them apart with its teeth.

22. Tigers

tiger
Scientific NamePanthera tigris
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeNorth Korea, China, India, and Southwest Asia
DietCarnivore

The tiger is a great example of an animal that uses its sense of smell to track prey. Tigers can detect their prey’s scent from up to two miles away.

They use this information to stalk their prey, often creeping upon them without being detected.

23. Wolves

wolf pack
Scientific NameCanis lupus
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeNorth America, Europe, Asia and North Africa
DietCarnivore

Wolves are perhaps the most well-known hunters that use tracking to take down prey. They have an excellent sense of smell, which they use to follow prey’s scent trail.

Wolves will also keep track of animal movements to determine their direction and possible destination. By doing this, wolves can effectively ambush prey by surprise.

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