You already know that many animals kill for food. But did you know that some kill for sport, also known as “surplus killing”?
Animals that kill for fun include formidable predators such as lions, wolves, hyenas, and orcas, as well as some smaller animals, including minks, weasels, and raccoons, among others.
Some zoologists think that these animals are simply driven by their hunting instincts. But others believe that they take pleasure in the act of killing.
Regardless of the reasons, in this post, we’ll discuss 13 animals that kill more prey than they consume.
List of 13 Animals That Kill For Fun
Wolves rely on their hunting prowess to get food. When in a pack, wolves don’t hesitate to attack cows, deer, or even bison. It’s a real feast for them.
Also, although other animals (including humans) rarely attack them, wolves will defend themselves and kill an attacker in self-defense.
But these predators also kill for fun, especially when targeting weak animals. A better name would be “killing to get practice” because most young wolves kill other animals without even tasting them.
Weasels are chickens’ nightmares. These predators enjoy killing hens by tearing their heads off and pulling out the entrails. And most of the time, they don’t do that because they are hungry.
These sneaky killers enter henhouses and leave a bloody mess there. If hungry, weasels eat part of their prey and take leftovers as on-the-go snacks. But they’ll also drag dead hens around for no reason.
Furthermore, weasels will attack anything that reminds them of potential prey. Although their bellies are full, these bloodthirsty beasts will attack anything that moves, even if it’s several times their size.
As the king of animals, the lion has “permission to kill” everyone. Pack leaders are obliged to feed the entire group, so they often kill more prey than is necessary. This excess usually remains for the vultures and other scavengers.
And you know how house cats play with birds and small lizards? That’s what lions do too, but not so often since they only have a little playtime in the wild. But whenever they have a chance, these animals kill for sport.
Lions seem to enjoy playing with their prey. However, when they get bored playing the game, they end it quickly in the cruelest way possible.
Despite their name, honey badgers are not sweet at all. These animals from the genus weasels may seem like easy prey for larger predators.
The truth is, they’re actually invulnerable, fearless, and quite vicious. And they enjoy killing for sports.
These badgers eat honey, but they also hunt snakes or even baby crocodiles. Chicken is also on their menu, but even after they run into the henhouse and make a poultry massacre, honey badgers will only eat a few of them. That proves the claim they’re doing this just because they can.
These unique creatures like to try their die-hard skills on larger predators. Researchers even recorded cases when only a couple of honey badgers confronted lions and even attacked them first. That takes some guts, right?
Read Also: List of Predators
Minks are seemingly harmless animals. Yet, they’re proof that the deadliest poison comes in small bottles. So despite their size, these carnivores will gladly use their razor-sharp teeth on everything that comes their way.
Innate killer instincts and carnivore nature drive minks to hunt. They’re so obsessed with murdering that they kill more prey than they need for food. And when these animals kill for sports, their most common targets are ducks, foxes, and rabbits.
These small predators will even pile up the carcass of killed animals.
In addition, minks can kill your pet bird, cat, or hamster due to their urge to hunt. These weasels will also catch fish in an aquarium or pond, given the opportunity.
Raccoons prove that the cruelest killers look the most innocent. Just look at those tiny eyes and contrite expressions.
Coons do seem like cuddle balls, but it’s just a mask. They’re notorious animals that kill for pleasure, and they love it.
If you raise hens, raccoons are undoubtedly some of the critters you despise the most. They think of your coop as their playground, so they’ll break in and scare your hens to death.
Many times, coons will kill poultry not because of food, and their killing signature is beheading their victims.
Raccoons enjoy killing so much that they’ll even do it with inanimate objects like balls or socks. Also, they can kill cats or small dogs, but they probably won’t eat them.
Dolphins are cute, intelligent, and lovable mammals. Or at least they appear to be. But in open seas, they’re psychopaths killing for pleasure.
The proof of the last statement is the fact that adult males kill cubs to mate with females. Also, they don’t hesitate to kill other dolphins if they consider them competition. And the worst part is that these aquatic animals play with their victims like balls.
Scientists often record fatal dolphin attacks on smaller aquatic mammals such as porpoises. These little ones don’t pose any threat to them. On the other hand, dolphins don’t eat porpoises, so there’s no valid reason for killing them.
Also, due to their size, dolphins kill the smaller fish they eat by tail-smacking or biting off their heads. The latter often leads to a slow and painful death.
You probably know that another name for orcas is killer whales. Well, their name tells a lot. Orcas are dolphins, so it’s clear where their killer instincts come from.
Another, more local name for orcas is the sea wolves. One of the reasons for this is that they would eat everything, killing their prey in brutal ways. And very often, they do it for pure pleasure, not food.
Orcas’ specialty is baby whales and sharks. They chase them for miles until the poor guys get exhausted. And if they don’t drown, orcas will brutally kill these babies by biting them to death.
Surplus killing is a common thing in leopards too. These wild cats are killing machines that can tear apart their prey in the blink of an eye for no perceivable reason.
Leopards can leave behind dozens of victims and eat only one. One part of the killed prey can be left for later or taken to the cubs, while the rest of the corpses will remain at the crime scene as a reminder of the leopard’s bloody feast.
Another reason leopards slaughter smaller animals and livestock is to teach the cubs basic hunting skills. Their instincts seem to be sharpened near herds of cows, antelopes, or deer, so they take advantage of it to perfect hunting techniques and pass that knowledge on to their young.
Coyotes mostly roam rural areas but can also come to the cities searching for food. They’re born hunters, and the genuine reason for killing other animals is food, defense, or teaching the young to hunt.
But sometimes, coyotes chase and kill prey for no apparent reason. That happens in rare situations when there’s plenty of food, for example, when intruding on a farm or henhouse or when people feed them out of ignorance.
These predators can bite livestock until it dies from internal bleeding. Or they’ll tear off the smaller animals’ heads, leaving them with deadly punctures, and disappear. And that’s a clear sign coyotes commit the massacre for sport.
Coyotes will carry their prey to a safe place to eat it in peace or feed their cubs. But if they leave dead animals, it means they’re full, and the killing was just a pastime.
The saying “cunning as a fox” exists for a good reason. These animals have excellent hunting qualities. Combined with their natural intelligence, these are a winning combination for survival in nature.
The fox hunts everything, from young deer to insects. But they prefer smaller creatures like mice, rodents, and rabbits, as they’re easy to kill.
In the wild, foxes generally eat their prey, and if there are leftovers, they save them buried later.
However, when the foxes come to the hen house, it’s like a buffet. So they may slaughter all the chickens and eat only a few.
Another “honorary” title of a psychopath in the animal world belongs to hyenas. And not only because of their laughter but also because these aggressive predators kill for banal reasons.
Hyenas are very adaptable, which means they can inhabit different areas and tolerate both lack and abundance of food equally well. But even in the latter case, they don’t lack murderous instincts. On the contrary, hyenas are prone to surplus killing, more for fun than necessity.
These social animals use their stamina, numbers, and natural intellect to exhaust and bring down much larger herbivore animals. However, often, hyenas can’t eat as much as they kill, leaving their catch dying slowly and painfully.
With civilization’s progress, people have reached the stage where they don’t have to hunt for food (at least most of the world’s population).
However, this urge to hunt has yet to go. Moreover, it’s still present, but for all the wrong reasons.
Today, people kill animals primarily for pleasure. Hunting has also become a competitive sport, putting humans at the top of the list of animals that kill for fun.
And if we factor in murdering other people, too, it’s clear why the human race holds the first place on this infamous list.
Related: List of Most Hated Animals