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41 Powerful Apex Predators (A to Z List with Pictures)

apex predators list

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

alligator
Scientific NameAlligator mississippiensis
ClassificationReptile
SizeUp to 9 feet
ColorBlack-brown
HabitatMississippi, rivers

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

Fuzzy black bear
Scientific NameUrsus americanus
ClassificationMammal
SizeUp to 75 inches
ColorBlack
HabitatForests

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

crocodile
Scientific NameCrocodylus acutus
ClassificationReptile
SizeUp to 20ft
ColorGray
HabitatSwamps

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

Alligator gar
Scientific NameAtractosteus spatula
ClassificationActinopterygii
Size10ft
ColorGray
HabitatFreshwater

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

Black Caiman
Scientific NameMelanosuchus niger
ClassificationReptile
Size13.1 – 16.4 feet
ColorGray-black
HabitatAmazon basin

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

brown bear
Scientific NameUrsus arctos
ClassificationMammal
SizeUp to 60 inches
ColorBrown
HabitatForests

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.

7. Cheetah

cheetah
Scientific NameAcinonyx jubatus
ClassificationMammal
SizeUp to 3 feet
ColorYellow, orange, black
HabitatGrasslands, 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

Coconut Crab
Scientific NameBirgus latro
ClassificationMalacostraca
Size3ft 3 inches
ColorBrown-orange
HabitatCoastal areas

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!

9. Cougar

cougar
Scientific NamePuma concolor
ClassificationMammal
Size35 inches
ColorBrown
HabitatMountains, 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 NameCrocodylus rhombifer
ClassificationReptile
Size10.5 feet
ColorGray
HabitatSwamp

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!

11. Dingo

dingo
Scientific NameCanis familiaris
ClassificationMammal
SizeUp to 23 inches
ColorBrown
HabitatVarious

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 NamePseudorca crassidens
ClassificationMammal
Size20 feet
ColorGray
HabitatOcean

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

Giant Moray
Scientific NameGymnothorax javanicus
ClassificationActinopterygii
SizeUp to 10 feet
ColorGray
HabitatOcean

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

otter
Scientific NamePteronura brasiliensis
ClassificationMammal
SizeUp to 5.6 feet
ColorGray
HabitatFreshwater 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

Pacific Octopus
Scientific NameEnteroctopus dofleini
ClassificationCephalopod
VenomMedium
SizeMore than 150 pounds
ColorOrange, white
HabitatNorth Pacific

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 NameArchiteutis dux
ClassificationCephalopod
SizeUp to 43 feet
ColorOrange, white
HabitatOcean

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 NameSomniosus microcephalus
ClassificationChondrichthyes
Size24 feet
ColorGray-brown
HabitatOcean

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

grey wolf
Scientific NameCanis lupus
ClassificationMammal
SizeUp to 32 inches
ColorGray
HabitatForests

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

grizzly bear
Scientific NameUrsus arctos horribilis
ClassificationMammal
Size39 inch
ColorBrown
HabitatForests, mountains

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

Harris's Hawk
Scientific NameParabuteo unicinctus
ClassificationBird
Size18-24 inches
ColorBrown-gray
HabitatWoodland, 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.

21. Humans

human
Scientific NameHomo sapiens
ClassificationMammal
Size5ft-7ft
ColorVarious
HabitatVarious

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.

22. Jaguar

A jaguar hunting near a stream
Scientific NamePanthera Onca
ClassificationMammal
Size2.4 feet
ColorOrange-brown-black
HabitatRainforests

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

Cobra
Scientific NameOphiophagus hannah
ClassificationReptile
VenomHigh
Size10-12 feet
ColorWhite-gray
HabitatJungle

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 NamePrionailurus bengalensis
ClassificationMammal
SizeTo 30 inches
ColorBrown-black
HabitatForests

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.

25. Lion

lion
Scientific NamePanthera leo
ClassificationMammal
Size3.9 feet
ColorOrange-brown
HabitatThick 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

Maned Wolf
Scientific NameChrysocyon brachyurus
ClassificationMammal
Size34 inches
ColorBrown
HabitatForests, 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 NameCrocodylus niloticus
ClassificationReptile
Size16 feet
ColorGray
HabitatNile river

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.

28. Orca

orca
Scientific NameOrcinus orca
ClassificationMammal
SizeUp to 30 ft.
ColorBlack and white
HabitatOcean

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.

29. Osprey

osprey
Scientific NamePandion haliaetus
ClassificationBird
SizeUp to 71 inches
ColorGray and white
HabitatAny 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 NamePithecophaga jefferyi
ClassificationBird
Size3 feet
ColorBlack-white
HabitatPhillippines

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

A polar bear with her cub
Scientific NameUrsus maritimus
ClassificationMammal
SizeUp to 7.8 feet (standing)
ColorWhite
HabitatSea 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

Ball Python
Scientific NameMalayopython reticulatus
ClassificationReptile
SizeOver 16 feet
ColorGray-brown
HabitatRainforests, woodlands

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

crocodiles
Scientific NameCrocodylus porosus
ClassificationReptile
Size17ft
ColorGray-brown
HabitatSaltwater habitats

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

Sperm Whale
Scientific NamePhyseter macrocephalus
ClassificationMammal
SizeUp to 52 feet
ColorGrey
HabitatOcean

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

hyena
Scientific NameCrocuta crocuta
ClassificationMammal
SizeUp to 35 inch
ColorBrown
HabitatSavanna, 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.

36. Swordfish

Swordfish
Scientific NameXiphias gladius
ClassificationActinopterygii
SizeUp to 177 inches
ColorGray
HabitatOcean

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.

37. Tiger

tiger
Scientific NamePanthera tigris
ClassificationMammal
SizeUp to 4 feet
ColorBrown-black
HabitatForests, 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

Tasmanian Devil
Scientific NameSarcophilus harrisi
ClassificationMammal
SizeUp to 12 inches
ColorBlack
HabitatTasmania

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.

39. Wolverine

Wolverine
Scientific NameGulo gulo
ClassificationMammal
SizeUp to 43 inches
ColorBrown
HabitatBoreal forests

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

Whale Shark
Scientific NameRhincodon typus
ClassificationChondrichthyes
SizeUp to 33 feet
ColorGray
HabitatOcean

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

White-Tailed Eagle
Scientific NameHaliaeetus Albicilla
ClassificationBird
SizeUp to 37 inches
ColorBlack and white
HabitatRocky 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.

Conclusion

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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