Apex predators are at the top of the food chain. They don’t have natural predators and throughout evolution, have relied on other animals for food. However, some apex predators are threatened despite their seemingly invincible nature because of human interventions and causes.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at the top apex predators.
List of Apex Predators
These are some of the most ferocious apex predators.
1. American Alligator
|Scientific Name||Alligator mississippiensis|
|Size||Up to 9 feet|
The American alligator is commonly found in the swamps and rivers of Mississippi, but also in other states in the United States. This ferocious animal will hunt down other animals in its habitat and establish its role as an apex predator. It stalks underwater and pounces on unsuspecting animals coming to the water’s edge for a drink.
2. American Black Bear
|Scientific Name||Ursus americanus|
|Size||Up to 75 inches|
An omnivore, the American black bear is very adaptable to its surroundings. It will primarily eat shrubs, foliage, roots, and berries. However, it also consumes meats such as the meat of ungulates like deer. While it doesn’t have predators, it’s also a pretty poor hunter, and often simply scavenges the meat of recently deceased animals that it stumbles upon.
3. American Crocodile
|Scientific Name||Crocodylus acutus|
|Size||Up to 20ft|
The American crocodile is a voracious hunter and also potentially dangerous to humans, so it’s best to avoid areas where these animals live! It will subdue its prey by rolling rapidly until it drowns or falls unconscious. This crocodile also has an extremely strong biteforce.
4. Alligator Gar
|Scientific Name||Atractosteus spatula|
The alligator gar is one of the largest fish species in North America. It’s an avid hunter and also an apex predator. It will eat any other fish that cross its path. While it shares a name with (and looks similar to) an alligator, it’s no relation at all.
5. Black Caiman
|Scientific Name||Melanosuchus niger|
|Size||13.1 – 16.4 feet|
Next up, we have the black caiman, another crocodile species to be included on this list of apex predators. It’s entirely black and very good at hunting down other animals in its area. You can find the black caiman in the Amazon basin where it stalks its prey in the remote rivers of the dense Amazon.
6. Brown Bear
|Scientific Name||Ursus arctos|
|Size||Up to 60 inches|
The brown bear is the king of the forests. It’s found in Eurasia as well as North America. It is great at fishing, but actually not that great at hunting. You can find it hunting ungulates like deer, but you’ll also often see it stealing a meal from wolves or scavenging for carrion meat. It’s still considered an apex predator, however, because other animals don’t tend to hunt it due to its power and strength.
|Scientific Name||Acinonyx jubatus|
|Size||Up to 3 feet|
|Color||Yellow, orange, black|
|Habitat||Grasslands, open plains|
The cheetah is one of the most slender and elegant cat species. It is the fastest land animal that is capable of running with speeds of up to 80 miles per hour. With its long, thin legs and sleek body, and fast speed, it’s almost impossible for its prey to escape. It will eat ungulates like antelope as a main source of food.
8. Coconut Crab
|Scientific Name||Birgus latro|
|Size||3ft 3 inches|
The coconut crab got its name from its stealing of coconuts and other fruits from humans. While it doesn’t eat other animals, it has been deemed to be an apex predator because no other animals will hunt it. This may be because of its excellent ability to hide as well as its strong pincers!
|Scientific Name||Puma concolor|
|Habitat||Mountains, forests, savannas|
The cougar is sometimes also referred to as the mountain lion. It is a relatively small cat species but also a very ferocious one. It’s considered to be an apex predator. While it shares a habitat with bears, cougars and bears tend to leave each other alone. This is an instance where two apex predators may co-inhabit an area, simply going about their business separately.
10. Cuban Crocodile
|Scientific Name||Crocodylus rhombifer|
The Cuban crocodile lives in Cuba – more specifically, the Zapata swamp. It’s an endangered species and is expected to die out in the next few years according to the IUCN Red List of endangered animals. It’s dying out due to human interference, not predation. This goes to show that even apex predators can go extinct!
|Scientific Name||Canis familiaris|
|Size||Up to 23 inches|
The dingo is Australia’s most famous dog species. It’s an ancient species that has been found thousands of years ago, but it’s never been domesticated or become the pet of humans because it’s so vicious. It has the remarkable ability to live in isolated and extreme climates and feeds largely off carrion meat (animal carcasses).
12. False Killer Whale
|Scientific Name||Pseudorca crassidens|
This dolphin looks like the killer whale, but it’s actually quite a different species. That’s why it’s called the false killer whale. Like all dolphins, it can be surprisingly vicious and predates on fish in tropical waters. Dolphins work in packs to hunt down their food.
13. Giant Moray
|Scientific Name||Gymnothorax javanicus|
|Size||Up to 10 feet|
The giant moray is a carnivorous fish species that preys on smaller fish, and it’s also not eaten by other animals in its habitat. Being one of the larger fish in the world with the ability to take down smaller fish in the habitat, it puts the phrase “being the biggest fish in the sea” to good use!
14. Giant Otter
|Scientific Name||Pteronura brasiliensis|
|Size||Up to 5.6 feet|
|Habitat||Freshwater rivers and water bodies|
You might not think about the otter as an apex predator, but as a matter of fact, it is one. This animal will mainly feed on fish, but might sometimes look for other food sources, as well. Its ability to hide and defend itself allows it to avoid predation, making it the king of its habitat.
15. Giant Pacific Octopus
|Scientific Name||Enteroctopus dofleini|
|Size||More than 150 pounds|
Like many other sea creatures, the octopus can grow quite large. It’s the largest octopus species in the world. However, it’s not its size that makes it invicible, but rather, its powerful tentacles. Other animals choose to avoid it for fear of being eaten. Weighing over 150 pounds, this octopus is as heavy as a fully grown human being!
16. Giant Squid
|Scientific Name||Architeutis dux|
|Size||Up to 43 feet|
In the depths of the ocean hides the giant squid, which is an apex predator. This animal will feed on other deep-sea fish and creatures, but it doesn’t have natural predators because of its defensive mechanisms and ability to inhabit the most remote locations where potential predators like sharks cannot come near it.
17. Greenland Shark
|Scientific Name||Somniosus microcephalus|
The Greenland shark is one of the largest shark species in the world. The most exceptional thing about this animal is its longevity – some of these sharks can live for over 250 years. It’s a fierce predator, but can also get stuck in shark and fishing nets by humans, who pose a threat to all shark species in the world.
18. Grey Wolf
|Scientific Name||Canis lupus|
|Size||Up to 32 inches|
The grey wolf is one of the most formidable opponents in nature. While it often hunts in packs, the lone wolf is also ferocious and dangerous. It doesn’t have natural predators and will mostly hunt ungulates, as well as other smaller animals. It will occasionally come into contact with grizzly bears, from whom it will usually flee, but the Grizzly can’t catch it, so it’s not considered a predator of the grey wolf.
19. Grizzly Bear
|Scientific Name||Ursus arctos horribilis|
The grizzly bear is a subspecies of the brown bear. They are usually more ferocious. It has been known for attacking humans in the past, although it focuses on ungulates, primarily. Other animals it eats include salmon and small mammals. It also has roots, berries and herbs as large parts of its diet. The grizzly lives in inland areas of North America and shares a habitat with other apex predators like wolves and cougars.
20. Harris’ Hawk
|Scientific Name||Parabuteo unicinctus|
|Habitat||Woodland, semi-desert habitats|
The Harris’ hawk is a raptor species that’s present in many areas of the world. It’s an apex predator since it doesn’t have any natural enemies. It’s ability to fly allows it to escape potential predators on the ground, while also giving it an enormous advantage over its prey on the ground.
|Scientific Name||Homo sapiens|
Humans are and always have been apex predators. Some people argue that the modern human is not an apex predator because it does not actively hunt other animals. However, evolutionary, the human was always at the top of the food chain and it was rarely attacked by other animals.
|Scientific Name||Panthera Onca|
Like other cat species from the apex predators list, the jaguar is an extremely agile hunter. It is carnivorous as it will eat and hunt almost any other animal in its habitat. In addition, the jaguar is also known for its exceptional speed, meaning ungulates have no hope against this fierce cat.
23. King Cobra
|Scientific Name||Ophiophagus hannah|
The king cobra is not to be messed with. It is said a single bite can deliver enough toxins to kill up to 20 people. This has caused the king cobra to gain the reputation of being one of the most feared snakes in the world. It’s also one of the fastest and aggressive snakes known to man.
24. Leopard Cat
|Scientific Name||Prionailurus bengalensis|
|Size||To 30 inches|
The leopard cat might look something close to a Bengal cat, but this little cute animal is not to be considered a pet. It’s a highly carnivorous animal known for its appetite, but also for its apex predator status in its habitat.
|Scientific Name||Panthera leo|
|Habitat||Thick brush and dry forest|
Muscular and dominating, the lion is one of the most authoritative animals in its habitat. It’s known as the “king of the jungle”, although not many actually live in a jungle. Despite that, the lion is truly one of the most spectacular apex predators in the world, although they have sadly become endangered in recent decades.
26. Maned Wolf
|Scientific Name||Chrysocyon brachyurus|
|Habitat||Forests, savannas, marshes|
Similarly to the gray wolf, the maned wolf is also an apex predator. However, it is slightly different from the gray wolf. It is known for its brown color as well as its mane. In terms of appearance, it resembles more closely a fox rather than a wolf. You can identify it by its long hind legs.
27. Nile Crocodile
|Scientific Name||Crocodylus niloticus|
Crocodiles are usually apex predators in their habitat, and the Nile crocodile is no different. This croc will also live with other crocodile species in its habitat and they tend to ignore one another. It’s an apex predator, though, so it will not have any natural predators. It feeds on mammals coming to the shore to drink as well as fish.
|Scientific Name||Orcinus orca|
|Size||Up to 30 ft.|
|Color||Black and white|
The orca is one of the largest animals in the world. It dominates its habitat through its sheer size and power. They are sometimes called the wolves of the ocean because they hunt in packs, or rather, groups. They will eat anything from fish to plankton, seabirds, sea turtles, and other creatures they can find.
|Scientific Name||Pandion haliaetus|
|Size||Up to 71 inches|
|Color||Gray and white|
|Habitat||Any location near a body water|
The osprey is a type of hawk that prefers to hunt animals from the water. As such, it is often called the sea hawk or river hawk. The name already suggests that this animal likes to eat fish and other animals from the sea, and it also doesn’t have any natural predators because it often flies too high to get caught.
30. Philippine Eagle
|Scientific Name||Pithecophaga jefferyi|
The Philippine eagle is an eagle species that is native to the islands of the Phillippines. It is also an apex predator in its habitat. Like the Harris hawk, this eagle’s advantage is that it can escape potential predators by flying away, while also having the ability to swoop on its unsuspecting prey from above.
31. Polar Bear
|Scientific Name||Ursus maritimus|
|Size||Up to 7.8 feet (standing)|
|Habitat||Sea ice, cold, snowy, and icy areas|
Out of all the bear species, the polar bear is by far the largest. It controls its habitat despite often having competition from polar wolves, although these two species tend to avoid each other whenever possible. The polar bear is known for its appetite and its willingness to eat almost anything, including humans.
32. Reticulated Python
|Scientific Name||Malayopython reticulatus|
|Size||Over 16 feet|
Seeing the python can be a scary proposition. It’s a large, thick snake that has the ability to strangle even the largest animals. It has strong muscles, which allows it to capture larger animals with ease and crush them with their grasp, and then consume them whole.
33. Saltwater Crocodile
|Scientific Name||Crocodylus porosus|
The saltwater crocodile can live up to 70 years in the wild, which is a testament to its ability to protect itself against other animals. It’s a carnivorous animal that attacks other species with its sharp teeth while also staying safe while in the water.
34. Sperm Whale
|Scientific Name||Physeter macrocephalus|
|Size||Up to 52 feet|
The name of the sperm whale is often widely debated; it has nothing to do with their sperm, but rather, the waxy substance that is found on the whale’s head. It’s an apex predator that controls its habitat by capturing and eating other animals including fish and other animals it can find.
35. Spotted Hyena
|Scientific Name||Crocuta crocuta|
|Size||Up to 35 inch|
|Habitat||Savanna, open fields|
Stealth and agility are two of the main strengths of the hyena. Even though it is relatively small for an apex predator, it’s an exceptionally gifted animal at hunting. Most importantly, it has the wit to outsmart almost any animal in its habitat.
|Scientific Name||Xiphias gladius|
|Size||Up to 177 inches|
Known for its sword-like head, the swordfish is one of the most ferocious predators in the ocean. It is an apex predator thanks to its ability to hunt larger numbers of other fish and protect itself against larger fish.
|Scientific Name||Panthera tigris|
|Size||Up to 4 feet|
|Habitat||Forests, savannas, grasslands, swamps|
The tiger is the largest living cat species. It’s an apex predator because of its size and agility. It’s also a powerful animal that has been known to hunt humans in the past, although it prefers to hunt ungulates like deer. Several species of tiger, such as the Sumatran tiger, are highly endangered due to the encroachment of humans onto their land.
38. Tasmanian Devil
|Scientific Name||Sarcophilus harrisi|
|Size||Up to 12 inches|
The Tasmanian devil is a ferocious creature. Many people believe it to be an apex predator where it lives because it doesn’t have natural predators. It is an endangered species though, as the populations have been rapidly declining due to disease that spreads around the remaining population.
|Scientific Name||Gulo gulo|
|Size||Up to 43 inches|
No, it’s not the wolverine you have seen in movies; rather, this type of wolverine prefers to reside in boreal forests where it will feed on other animals. It’s relatively small for an apex predator, but its hunting abilities make it an excellent predator capable of surviving the harshest periods.
40. Whale Shark
|Scientific Name||Rhincodon typus|
|Size||Up to 33 feet|
The whale shark is an interesting species. It’s a mixture of a whale and it also has some features of a shark. It’s a filter-feeding animal, which means that it will usually feed on a larger scale by catching loads of smaller animals, such as smaller fish and plankton, by keeping its mouth open when slowly moving around.
41. White-Tailed Eagle
|Scientific Name||Haliaeetus Albicilla|
|Size||Up to 37 inches|
|Color||Black and white|
|Habitat||Rocky coastlines, mountains|
The white-tailed eagle is the king of the skies. It can fly very high, which enables it to have control over its surrounding areas. With that, it’s able to hunt down other animals in its habitat, including smaller birds and ground animals.
Apex predators are some of the fiercest animals in the world. They control their habitat and are at the top of the food chain. While we often think of fierce animals with big teeth when thinking about apex predators, some are surprising predators! Some small birds can be ferocious apex predators, too!
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