Predator and Prey – Concept, characteristics and examples

We explain what are predator and prey, what are the differences between predator and predator and examples of predatory animals.

Predator and prey
The predator hunts the prey to feed on it and thus obtain energy.

What are predator and prey?

Predation is a key system in the life cycle. It is a mechanism for the transmission of carbon and energy, from the simplest to the most complex forms of life, also exerting pressure on the species known as natural selection, which is nothing more than the competition to survive and reproduce, and is one of the most efficient engines for evolution.

This system is then composed of predator and prey. The biological interaction between one and the other consists in that the predator or predator hunts the prey and feeds on the organic matter of its body, thus obtaining the energy and matter necessary to survive.

Of course, predators can also be prey for other larger predators, so that the species feed on each other forming what is known as the trophic chain or food chain (often represented as a pyramid), whose balance and continuity keep the populations of a given ecosystem balanced. Thus, the prey-predator relationship is essential for ecological harmony and occurs naturally, spontaneously, as long as there are no human interference.

Differences between predator and predator

The terms predator and predator are synonymous, that is, there is no difference in use or meaning between one and the other. Both come from the Latin depraedator, derived from the verb praedari (“steal”, “snatch”, “acquire a loot”), which in turn comes from praeda, (“prey”). Its application to the animal kingdom was historically given as a loan or metaphor.

Examples of predatory animals

Predator and prey
Praying mantises feed on insects, minnows, small rodents, or other mantises.

Some simple examples of predatory animals are:

  • The big cats of the jungle and savanna. Lions, panthers, tigers, cougars, etc.
  • The large amphibian, aquatic or terrestrial reptiles. Among them are crocodiles and alligators, which surprise their prey by going to drink water, but also Galapagos lizards, Komodo dragons and, on a much smaller scale, toads and iguanas, predators of numerous species of insects.
  • Many arachnids. Especially spiders, who capture prey with their webs; or scorpions, who inject them with a paralyzing poison with their sting.
  • Snakes and boas. Some of which employ the poisonous bite, and others the suffocating constriction, to capture their prey.
  • Birds of Prey. Predators of rodents, lizards and other small animals, such as eagles, hawks, owls, etc.
  • Praying mantises. Ferocious and voracious insects that can feed on insects, minnows, small rodents or other mantises.
  • Wild bears. Especially brown bears, grizzly bears or polar bears, active hunters in their respective ecosystems.
  • The Sharks. The largest and fiercest predators in the sea, along with other fish such as barracudas, orcas, etc.

It may interest you: Examples of predation