What is Prey? - Definition & Examples Video

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Wildlife Corridors: Definition & Explanation

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:02 A Look at Prey
  • 0:27 Types of Prey
  • 1:46 Adaptations
  • 2:59 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sarah Friedl

Sarah has two Master's, one in Zoology and one in GIS, a Bachelor's in Biology, and has taught college level Physical Science and Biology.

What makes an organism a prey item? Can prey become predator? Prey come in all shapes and sizes, and many have special adaptations to help them survive.

A Look at Prey

You have likely seen this scenario on TV: a lion stalks an unsuspecting antelope, a chase ensues, the lion catches the antelope and has a very large meal to eat. In this situation the lion is the predator and the antelope is the prey. Predation is a biological interaction between predator and prey, but it is not always as clear, or as dramatic, as in this example.

Types of Prey

There are many types of predation and prey, and the example of the lion hunting the antelope is called carnivory. Predation can also occur as parasitism, in which the prey is a host that supports a parasite, such as a virus. In this case, the prey may be harmed but not killed outright like the antelope. When the prey is the same species as the predator, this is called cannibalism.

Plants can also be prey, and this is called herbivory. When a deer eats grass, the plant is the prey and the animal the predator. Herbivory is interesting because it highlights how sometimes an organism can be predator or prey depending on the situation. As a mouse is prey as it runs from an attack by a hawk, but becomes predator as soon as it eats some tasty sunflower seeds.

Humans can also be both predator and prey. Without weapons, humans are very vulnerable to carnivory by larger animals, such as alligators and lions. However, when they have weapons, such as guns, traps, and bows and arrows, they quickly turn the tables and can make the predator the prey.

Additionally, organisms do not have to be larger than their prey to be successful predators. Venomous snakes are able to take advantage of a variety of large prey items because an injection of venom can be quite fatal.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account