#10 – Dolphin
Using sonar location to find their prey, a dolphin pod will work cooperatively to herd fish into a tight ball before taking turns swooping through the mass to eat as many fish as possible. Some dolphin subspecies even drive fish into shallow water where they are unable to escape, and some will use their tails to stun their prey. These underrated predators should be acknowledged for their ability to work as a team and their devastatingly effective hunting methods.
#9 - Short-tailed shrew
Like many rodents, this shrew has to eat at least the equivalent of its own body weight every day due to its rapid metabolism. What makes this worthy of our list of underrated predators is the fact that, unlike most mammals, the short-tailed shrew is poisonous. Only four or five inches long, and weighing around half to one ounce, the neurotoxin they produce is powerful enough to subdue prey much larger than itself, such as frogs and mice. They’re armed with 32 razor-sharp teeth, noses that are filled with olfactory receptors that allow them to smell prey, and dense whiskers to aid in tactile detection. Rodents are usually seen as prey rather than predators, but this tiny animal works to redress that balance.
#8 - Harpy eagle
Amazingly, despite being the strongest eagle in the world, this is a bird far less famous than many of its cousins. This underrated predator grows to about three-and-a-half-feet tall, with a wingspan that's twice as long. The harpy eagle has talons that are up to five inches long, longer than the claws of a full-grown grizzly bear. It can lift prey up to three-quarters its own body weight, including monkeys, sloths and other tree-dwelling mammals, as well as other birds such as macaws. The harpy eagle benefits from excellent eyesight, being able to spot an inch-long object from distances greater than 200 yards.
#7 - Army ants
Most of us will have heard of these insects, but we probably don’t appreciate just how formidable they really are. There are several different species of army ant, but the ones from the Amazon are the most powerful. The soldier ants can grow to half an inch long, with powerful jaws half their length. They move as a single predatory force across the jungle floor, one million blind ants attacking anything unable to get out of their way, including insects, frogs, lizards and other animals vastly bigger than themselves, making tens of thousand of kills a day.
#6 - Honey badger
With a name like this, you would be forgiven for thinking this is a fairly cute little animal. In reality, the honey badger is one of the most ferocious animals on the planet, and pound for pound it's probably the most fearless. Standing around a foot tall, the honey badger’s diet includes almost anything it can catch, including cobra, black mamba, and even jackals and small crocodiles. It has extremely sharp teeth, and fore claws that are up to two inches long, helping make it an adept climber and allowing it to raid beehives for the nutritious larvae inside. This underrated predator is so fearless that it will continue eating while being attacked by a swarm of angry African bees.
#5 – Chameleon
When people think of predatory reptiles, thoughts inevitably turn to crocodiles, Komodo dragons and monitor lizards, but few would credit the chameleon for its deadly hunting prowess. A highly specialized group of lizards, these underrated predators benefit from stereoscopic eyes that enable them to see a full 360 degrees and to focus on two different points at once. They can even see ultraviolet light. Once they’ve located their prey, their tongue (three times their own body length) extends to hit its prey in about 30 thousandths of a second, stunning the insect and pulling it back to be crushed by the chameleon’s jaws.
#4 - White-mustached Portia
No list of predators would be complete without an arachnid, and this little spider gets our vote. This spider is small, about the size of a thumbnail, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in intelligence. Believed by scientists to be the most intelligent spider in the world, this underrated predator hunts other spiders and actually works out a strategy for attacking its prey. By arachnid standards it has exceptional eyesight, and it will use trial-and-error tactics to see how to attack a spider it has never encountered before.
#3 - African hunting dog
Much less famous than wolves and other canine predators, the African hunting dog is a remarkable animal, being successful in as much as 94% of its hunts. They hunt in large packs of up to 40 animals, relentlessly pursuing and ultimately exhausting their prey before they all move in for the kill. Their numbers allow them to work as a relay team, taking turns chasing their prey before dropping back and allowing another dog to do the work. Perhaps even more remarkable is that these underrated predators will return to feed injured or sick pack members, displaying a tender social side as well as a relentless hunting instinct.
#2 - Fossa
Of all the animals on this list, we know the least about the fossa. A predatory mammal unique to Madagascar, an adult is about two-and-a-half-feet long with a tail of similar length. This helps them move with agility through the trees, allowing them to catch lemurs and other animals. Extremely strong for its size, the fossa is also an aggressive hunter, drawing comparisons with mongoose for its bravery. They seem to hunt at all times of the day, which suggests they are also opportunistic predators, although their actual diet remains shrouded in mystery. Given that it weighs less than a cocker spaniel, its role as top predator on Madagascar coupled with its low profile means it ranks as one of the most underrated predators in the world.
#1 - Domestic cat
We are all aware of the incredible diversity and hunting abilities of wild cat species, from the formidable tiger to the streamlined cheetah. But no wild cat is on record as being responsible for wiping out at least six entire species. The domestic cat is seen as a docile and gentle creature, but in the right environment it's more lethal than its wild counterparts, with great eyesight, hearing, agility, and razor-sharp claws. No other animal has had such a devastating impact on the natural world as this top underrated predator.