Razor sharp fangs, intimidating howls and unrivaled lethality – some of the world’s most imposing apex predators could be living right in your backyard.
The term “apex predator” is often associated with the beasts that roam the Sahara in Africa or the rain forests of South America, but some of the world’s deadliest animals can be found right in the U.S. Brush up on these dangerous hunters before your next adventure, or you may find yourself in an unescapable scenario.
Here are the deadliest apex predators in the U.S.
Grizzlies are North American brown bears famous for their dominant temperament and daunting size. The colossal creature has humped shoulders and a strikingly-high forehead. Its brown fur is usually silver-tipped, giving the grizzly its namesake grizzled effect. An adult grizzly towers eight feet high – much taller than the average human – and weighs about 900 lbs. The Alaskan grizzly bear, or the Kodiak bear, is even more intimidating, as it’s the largest living land carnivore, on par with the Polar bear. The Kodiak may reach a weight of 1500 lbs. and grow 10 feet tall. The Kodiak is lumbering, but other grizzlies are agile and can run incredibly fast – up to 30 mph. Grizzlies sometimes attack humans without evident provocation, but females with cubs are the most aggressive. Its immense power and razor fangs and claws put it at the top of its league, making it a true apex predator. You will mostly find it roaming the wilds of Alaska.
Also called the timber wolf, the gray wolf may look less imposing than the grizzly, but it is still a force to be reckoned with. The largest wild member of the Canidae family, male gray wolves may weigh in at just under 100 lbs. The wolf resembles a German shepherd, only with a bigger head, narrower chest, longer legs and larger paws. The gray wolf is an alpha predator wherever it roams. While grizzly bears are surprisingly big on berries, gray wolves have an alarming penchant for livestock and, occasionally, humans. Wolves are bouncing back from a threatened conservation status in the Great Lakes, northern Rockies and Southwestern United States.
The American alligator is the apex predator of the marshlands in the southern United States. It is striking when young – black with yellow banding – then brownish when adult, reaching a phenomenal and petrifying 19 feet. Unfortunately, just as the the rest of the predators here, the main threat to it is man. People have hunted the American alligator for its skin and its young has been sold in droves as pets. Because of this, the American alligator evaporated from many corners of America where it once abounded. Finally, after winning legal protection from hunters, the American Alligator made a dazzling comeback. Typically, the beast eats fish, small mammals and birds. If it is feeling pumped, however, it may devour prey on the scale of deer or cattle. Unnervingly, both sexes of American Alligator hiss. The male may unleash a roar that carries across massive distances. Beware of the females, in particular, as they may be twitchy when guarding their eggs.
In the Florida Everglades, Burmese pythons can be found scrapping with alligators to sit at the top of the swamp’s food chain. Pythons are also taking out other hefty animals that get in their way. In 2011, a 16-foot python was found resting after devouring an entire deer. Invasive pythons now maraud the Everglades – they own the area – and they are moving towards the Florida Keys and elsewhere up north. The snakes were unleashed by irresponsible pet owners into the Everglades, which cover about 4,000 square miles of Florida. They are on the march and on the up because they combine lethality with fertility. A female python can lay 100 eggs, which is tough on the ecosystem. Since the Burmese python’s takeover, there has been a extremely large decrease in raccoons, opossums and bobcats. Marsh and cottontail rabbits and foxes have also been alarmingly absent. The Burmese python sports sharp rearward-pointing teeth that seize its prey, and is one of the largest snake species on earth.
Great White Shark
North America’s savage coasts are graced by at least one alpha predator. The great white shark may be North America’s most commanding alpha predator because it operates in the ocean – a location that automatically puts humans at a disadvantage. The most feared shark in the ocean, the great white is sometimes called the white death. It grows up to 20 feet long and can weigh almost two tons. In addition, the great white packs large, triangular, blade-like teeth that are serrated along the sides. The super-predator also boasts powerful jaws and the ability to sense vibrations and electrical impulses. It can also smell, taste, hear and see extremely well. The great white can burst toward prey at speeds of up to 31 mph. Its diet includes seals and even whales. Despite its negative reputation, sharks rarely attack people. When one does, it is usually because it mistook a diver, swimmer or surfer for a seal or other prey.