Ambush predators or sit-and-wait predators are carnivorous animals or other organisms, such as some nematophagous fungi and carnivorous plants that capture or trap prey by stealth or by strategy (typically not conscious strategy), rather than by speed or necessarily by strength.
These organisms usually hide motionless and wait for prey to come within striking distance. They often are camouflaged, and may be solitary. This mode of predation may be safer for the predator in that in lying in wait it exposes itself less to its own predators. Furthermore, when a predator cannot move faster than its preferred prey, ambushing its prey is likely to be more efficient than pursuit. Otherwise, active hunting commonly is more effective. There are however many intermediate strategies; for example when a pursuit predator is faster than its prey over a short distance, but not in a long chase, then either stalking or ambushing becomes necessary as part of the strategy.
There are however, many dimensions to predation and many overlapping strategies; for example some predators exploit predictable prey pathways that offer opportunities intermediate between ambush and pursuit. Animals with such strategies include cats of all sizes, crocodiles and some insects such as predators that haunt ant trails. Ambush predators include many fish, snakes, and other reptiles, as well as some mammals, birds, insects and spiders.
Frogfishes catch prey by sudden opening of their jaws, which enlarges the volume of the mouth cavity up to twelve-fold and pulls the prey into the mouth along with water. The attack can be as fast as 6 milliseconds.
- Inon Scharf, Einat Nulman, Ofer Ovadia & Amos Bouskila (2006). "Efficiency evaluation of two competing foraging modes under different conditions". The American Naturalist 168 (3): 350–357. doi:10.1086/506921.
- Predation lecture University of Washington
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