A lot of internet debates pit two different animals against each other to determine who would come out on top, especially those which would not normally come into conflict with each other or even have the opportunity to do so.
It’s an amusing way to spend time and discuss the finer points of an individual animal’s strengths, weaknesses, and combat strategies.
In the same vein: what would happen if a hyena and jaguar ran afoul of one another and decided to fight it out?
There are a wide variety of factors which can influence the outcome of a battle such as this, from the way the animals live their lives to their methods of taking down prey. Each animal has its own quirks and advantages when it comes to offense and defense.
Let’s consider some relevant categories to determine who has the advantage in each of them and then play out who might be crowned champion in a battle to the death!
There are many factors in how an animal lives and survives which can influence how able he is in a fight. Let’s spotlight the lifestyle of each animal for further use in determining how his innate lifestyle can provide him an advantage (or disadvantage) over his opponent.
The largest species of hyena is the spotted hyena, and he typically lives in clans, ruled by a matriarch, which are very territorial over their range.
They mark their boundaries by spraying a foul-smelling liquid within the grass along the circumference and establish patrols to ensure no one invades their space.
While often thought of as a dog-like species, they are actually in the cat family and resemble these species in behavior as well.
Not particularly picky eaters, hyenas have the ability to consume and digest nearly any part of their prey, even the bones.
They struggle to digest hair, hooves, and horns, but that doesn’t stop them from trying; they often simply vomit up what they can’t process.
While they do enjoy the free feast provided by carrion, they have been labeled primarily as scavengers, which is a rather unfair depiction as nearly two thirds of their meals are actually live prey they have pursued themselves, making use of their powerful jaws to put an end to their chosen target.
They are known for their “laugh”, which isn’t intended to convey humor at all, but is a form of communication used to report food sources to others in their clan.
Unlike the hyena, the Jaguar prefers to stalk his environment alone, seeking a variety of different animals such as deer, squirrels, frogs, iguanas, monkeys, and fish during low-light conditions such as dawn or dusk.
When he has had all he wants of his meal, if there are leftovers, he will hide it and return to it later to finish it. He also doesn’t mind a free meal, snacking on carrion he comes across when the opportunity avails itself.
He is a rather aggressive protector of his home range, fighting to protect it from outsiders while occasionally giving females roaming rights when he is ready to mate.
A great climber, he often watches for action below from a nearby tree, but may also recline in the shade of inhabit caves when he is not on the prowl.
(Related: Are Jaguars Dangerous?)
Tale of the Tape
|Weight||98 – 140 lbs||100 to 250 lb|
|Length||3.1 – 5.4 feet||5 – 6 feet (head and body)|
|Habitat||Savannas, grasslands, woodlands, forest edges, subdeserts||Amazon rainforest, Pantanal|
|Lifespan||12 years||12 to 15 years (in the wild)|
|Bite Force||1110 PSI||1,500 PSI|
|Speed||40 mph||50 mph|
|Prey||Wildebeest, antelope, birds, lizards, snakes, and insects.||Carnivores: fish, turtles, caimans, deer, peccaries, capybaras, and tapirs|
Hyena vs Jaguar: Size and Weight
Let’s size up these competitors. The larger animal in an encounter is often given a significant advantage when it comes to combat, although that does not necessarily mean that he will win the battle.
A lot of factors come into play, but statistically, an animal with a significant size advantage is more likely to win the fight.
The spotted hyena is nearly six feet long and the males weigh in at around 125 pounds at the upper end of the scale, but this is a rather unusual scenario where the female of the species weighs more than the male, topping in at about 145 pounds!
Jaguars share a similar six feet length (eight feet counting the tail!), but his sleek and muscular body brings up to 300 pounds to the table.
That is a pretty significant advantage, although the hyena stands a little taller at the shoulder, coming in at about three feet to the jaguar’s two and a half.
Hyena vs Jaguar: Speed/Movement
A significant speed and maneuverability can keep an opponent on their toes and make it possible to wear down even larger foes.
Not to mention it can grant the opportunity for the all-important drawing of first blood.
The hyena can manage a decent speed, around 40 miles per hour at tops, and has the endurance to maintain their speed for an impressive amount of time.
Despite her front legs being longer than her hind legs, she is still a fairly agile creature.
Yet unless the jaguar is tired, he is going to outrun the hyena with his top speed of 50 MPH.
He also is an agile combatant, able to maneuver well in combat, so that cuts down on the hyena’s advantage significantly.
While the hyena can maintain longer due to her endurance, the short-term benefits of speed are probably going to be a more significant factor, so this one goes to the jaguar.
Hyena vs Jaguar: Weapons
The choice of weapons can make or break competitors. No matter how fast or strong an animal is, if he can’t break through his opponent’s defenses, it is just a matter of time before he is overwhelmed.
When hunting, hyenas really only have two weapons — their jaws and their endurance. Unable to grab their prey with their front paws, their best bet for striking with their jaws is to get the animal off its feet.
She often chases his prey for long periods of time until it becomes fatigued, then drags it down to the ground and uses those jaws to finish it off.
Those jaws can bite up to 1,100 PSI and have an intense grip and teeth which are made to even chew bone.
That is helpful, but in a one-on-one battle such as this with a faster opponent, she is not going to be chasing the jaguar, so she loses that advantage, at least in this form.
The jaguar doesn’t mess around. While he has claws as an option, they are typically used for holding prey more than attacking, although they can certainly be used or such.
His major method of attack is to chomp on a skull and crush it as quickly as possible, putting a decisive end to any combat. In relation to his size, the jaguar’s bite is the most powerful of any cat, at 1500 PSI.
Hyena vs Jaguar: Intelligence
A clever combatant can swing a battle in his favor through cunning and exploiting his strengths and his opponents weaknesses.
It also enhances his ability to orchestrate a battle to his advantage and overcome a disadvantage.
The hyena is considered a very cunning creature, indeed, even being compared intellectually to primates!
(Related: Can Hyenas Be Tamed?)
Reports show that hyenas can even learn to count and they interact in complex social aspects and hierarchies and can even memorize the rank and hierarchy of each member of their clan.
So they not only have the ability to count their enemies, but can work together well as a team, and craft complex plans and techniques.
The jaguar is known for his patience and smarts, as attested by his ability to sit for long periods of time by the water and use his tail as a lure for fish.
He also is adept at analyzing weaknesses in his opponent and is able to learn and adapt, even from a small age, when his mother actually teaches him what he needs to know to hunt, rather than relying on instinct alone.
Nonetheless, his intellect pales in comparison with that of the hyena.
Hyena vs Jaguar: Hunting Skills/Instincts To Kill
We discussed a basic outline for the hyena’s hunting technique, which typically involves wearing down an opponent in a prolonged chase and then dragging it to the ground to finish it off with powerful jaws.
It should be noted that they like to coordinate with others when hunting, taking advantage of their intelligence in battle.
Females of the species are over three times more aggressive than their male counterparts, and have been known to attack humans from time to time, although they typically leave well enough alone.
The jaguar is an ambush hunter, waiting in a tree above or behind concealment until prey is close enough for them to pounce with their powerful legs and crush a skull with their vicious jaws. This method is quick and to the point, quite different from the hyena’s technique.
He is not typically very aggressive, choosing to mind his own business, but if something threatens him, he can change that instantly.
Each hunting technique is different, but seems to work well for both species, so the main differential here is aggressiveness, which the hyena possesses in greater quantities.
Hyena vs Jaguar: Weaknesses
This is a particularly tough category to analyze because we are considering any aspect of the animal’s nature or makeup which can give the other an advantage.
Neither of these animals have anything definitive that could be considered an innate weakness in itself that can be exploited.
Obviously, the jaguar is stronger and faster and the hyena is smarter and has greater endurance, but those are attributes in favor of the individual, not really a weakness in an opponent.
Eh, let’s call it a draw.
Final Verdict: Who Would Win In a Fight
In a one-on-one encounter such as this, the hyena is at an extreme disadvantage in a variety of ways.
First off, she prefers to operate with others and in this scenario, that advantage is gone.
She also prefers wearing down an opponent in a long chase and since the jaguar is faster over the short term, unless she manages to injure him in a way which slows him down, she is probably not going to be able to leverage that advantage.
Her best bet is to use her impressive brain to find a way to wear down the jaguar, who may become impatient if unable to end the battle quickly with his powerful jaws.
However, there is slim margin for error, as chances are good that the jaguar is going to leverage his own speed, size, and strength to ensure that he manages to take full advantage of his skull chomping prowess.
Simply put, it is unlikely that a hyena acting alone is going to have much of a chance against a jaguar. To the victor go the spoils.
Other Animals Battles You Might Be Interested In: