The Most Deadly Predator in the World

by | Aug 5, 2022

Recently I read in Maria Konnikova’s excellent book The Biggest Bluff about the concept of predator success rate and which predator is the most deadly. Predator success rate is the percentage of time a predator catches and kills prey that it stalks. While we might think that once a predator sees and pursues prey, that the prey is toast, that’s not the case as predator success rates across the animal kingdom are pretty low, often in the 1-5% range.

The predator with the highest success rate is the Dragonfly with a shockingly high 95% success rate. Researchers think that the Dragonfly is such a successful hunter due to special neurons in its brain and the design of its eyes that allow it to track a moving target and calculate an optimal intersect trajectory. Fortunately, they don’t eat humans!

Deadly but beautiful!

Here’s the success rates of other animals:

African Wild Dogs have a 80-85% success rate. These dogs differ from domestic dogs in that they only have four toes instead of five. They’re super-fast clocking over 40mph sprints. And they hunt in groups.

African Wild Dog

African Black-Footed Cats have a 60% success rate. And they are tiny! Only about 8-10 inches tall. And Cute!

African Black-Footed Cat

Cheetahs kill at about a 60% rate also (one study reported 58%)


Peregrine Falcons have a nearly 50% success rate.


Leopards kill about 40% of prey they pursue. They look almost identical to Cheetahs but there are differences. Here’s a site that discusses what those differences are.


Domestic Cats: I’ve previously posted an IFOD on. how domestic cats are ruthless killers and responsible for the deaths of billions of birds. And they score highly on the predator success scale at a 35% success rate.

These cats look like they want to kill something!

Lions kill about 1 in 4 prey they pursue.


Tigers have a success rate of about 10%


Wolves typically hunt in packs, but have relatively low kill rates with reported results between 5-28%.



  1. Obviously domestic cats have a high rate since birds aren’t real.

  2. Very interesting article, but limited to land and air predators. Nothing about water-based predators – fish, sharks, orcas, the octopus, and so many others.

    • Great point. I tried to find information on sea creatures. There are obviously some great predators: Sharks, whales eat a ton of plankton, etc. I think maybe there haven’t been studies. Supposedly the Frogfish as a hugely high predator success rate. But, I couldn’t find anything like a study for sea animals.


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