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Predators: Top 10 Questions

February 2012

Thanks to Jon Rachael, regional wildlife manager, Idaho Department of Fish and Game; and Gregg Losinski, regional conservation educator, Idaho Department of Fish and Game for the answers.

1: Are wolves scavengers?

Yes, they are scavengers. Animals are opportunistic. It's all about energy. If they can find something lying around that's good to eat, animals are going to eat it because it takes them less energy than trying to chase something down. (From Will in Mrs. Woodall's class at Dalton Elementary School in Dalton Gardens)

2: Why do predators have sharp teeth?

Predators need sharp teeth in order to grip their prey so the prey doesn't get away. Then they need teeth that are like razor blades to cut the meat. Predator's teeth are like tools that they carry with them. (From Candace in Mrs. Woodall's class at Dalton Elementary School in Dalton Gardens)

3: Why do predators have to eat meat?

It's all about living and the energy needed to live. It's part of the food chain, and the prey animals are fulfilling a need for the predators. (From Zoey in Mrs. Woodall's s class at Dalton Elementary School in Dalton Gardens)

4: Where do predators live?

Predators live just about everywhere. We have all kinds of predators from the more common ones like lions, wolves and bears, down to snakes, frogs and insects. Even fish are predators. There are fish that eat fish. Predators are anywhere and everywhere. (From Sierra in Mrs. Schweitzer's class at Riverside Elementary School in Boise)

5: How fast can a grizzly bear run?

In a burst, a grizzly bear can run 35 miles per hour. So, they can outrun a person. That's why it's important if you encounter a bear, you don't try to outrun it. (From Amelia in Mrs. Schweitzer's class at Riverside Elementary School in Boise)

6: Why do gray wolves attack in groups?

It's a matter of efficiency. Typically, wolves are after larger prey and it's easier and safer for them to work as a team. (From Adam in Mrs. Schweitzer's class at Riverside Elementary School in Boise)

7: Can a larger predator eat a smaller predator?

Usually the larger predator eats the smaller predator, but it works the other way too. In some parts of the world, it's the small things that will get the big critters. We think about big things as being powerful, but small things working together have a lot of power too. Things like ticks can prey after moose. (From Catherine in Mrs. Schweitzer's class at Riverside Elementary School in Boise)

8: Does the fox have a predator or is it an apex predator?

The fox is definitely a predator but not an apex predator. Apex generally means the top of the pyramid; you are the one that's eating things below you. We call the fox a mezzo predator, something that's in the middle. It's eating something, but also being eaten by something else. (From Colton in Mrs. Woodall's class at Dalton Elementary School in Dalton Gardens)

9: How fast do wolves run when trying to catch prey?

Wolves are almost as fast as grizzly bears in very short bursts. However, they are designed to travel longer distances more efficiently. They have much greater endurance than bears do and they tend to wear their animals down and get them to a point where they stop running. Then they test them, particularly if there are a number of animals in a pack. (From Cassie in Mrs. Woodall's class at Dalton Elementary School in Dalton Gardens)

10: What are some ways predators outsmart their prey and ways prey outsmart predators?

Animals that are preyed upon are built to adapt to avoid getting killed. Their colorization may allow them to hide if they sit still, or they may be able to move very, very quickly to escape their predator. Some animals have eyes on the sides of their head to allow them much greater range of vision to help them protect themselves. Predators may have bursts of speed to allow them to catch their prey, or maybe they'll work in packs or groups, like wolves. Predators may also have colorization aspects to help them catch their prey. (From students in Mrs. Adcock's class at Hillview Elementary School in Ammon)


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