Difference between Predation and Parasitism

Predation and parasitism are nonspecific interactions between two different species in an ecosystem. Here, both predation and parasitism cause harm to one species and another is benefited.

Let’s learn more in detail about each terminology, along with their differences.

What is Predation?

In ecology, the act of preying on other animals is termed predation. The animal which hunts and kills other animals for food, is called the predator and the attacked animal is called the prey. Both predator and prey are evolved in the same ecosystem.

For example: Lion hunting the deer or zebras. Here the lion is the predator and the deer and zebras are called the prey of the lion.

In biological interaction of predation, the predator is the active organism.

Other than animals, the concept of predation can also be applied to plants.

For example: Elephants eating leaves, bears eating berries and so on.

Explore more: Predators

What is Parasitism

Parasitism is defined as the relationship or a type of a mutual bond formed between the two different species. In this act, one organism lives within the body of another organism and is benefited without causing any harm.

The organism which is present within the body of another organism, uses nutrition, grows and is sheltered upon the host organism is called a parasite. There are some rare parasites which acquire all the benefits from the host’s body and cause harm or eventually kill the host. All parasites are pathogenic, which are dangerous and cause infectious diseases in the host.

For example: Tapeworms, which are found attached to the intestines of animals feed on the host’s food, depriving it of the nutrients. Parasitism is also found in humans, plants, animals and also in insects. Viruses are the best example of parasites, which affects all living organisms by invading into their cells.

Explore more: Parasitism

Let’s learn the differences between predation and parasitism.

Predation and Parasitism – Comparisons




The act of preying by one animal on another animal.

The practice of living as a parasite on or within the body of another organism.


Occurs between a predator and a prey.

Occurs between a parasite and a host organism.

Mode of Action

Hunt, kill and attack the prey.

Invade the cells of the host, live, use resources and cause harm.

Number of hosts

Interact with several types of prey.

Interact only with one host organism.


Larger and stronger than the prey.

Smaller than the host organism.

Metabolic Dependency

There is no such metabolic dependency between the predator and a prey.

There is an intimate association involving metabolic dependency on the host.


Predation: Predator is very active and uses intense physical effort to catch the prey.

Parasitism: Parasite is generally passive in its progression.


Herbivores, Carnivores and Omnivores.

Virus, helminths and ectoparasites.

Mode of Action

They hunt, kill and feed over their prey from the outside.

Invade the living cells, utilizes nutrition and other benefits from the host and cause harm to the host.

Mode of Nutrition

Acquire nutrients by killing their prey.

Acquire nutrients from the host organisms.

Surplus Killers

Yes, they are a surplus killer, as they immediately kill their prey.

No, they are not a surplus killer, as they do not immediately kill the host organism.

Completion of Life Cycle

No such event occurs between the prey and predator

Required host to complete their life cycle.

Also refer: Difference between Autotrophs and Heterotrophs.

This article concludes the introduction to predation and parasitism and their differences. Stay tuned with BYJU’S Biology to learn more in detail about the different living species, their modes of nutrition and also more similarities and differences between predation and parasitism

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