This article is written from a Real World point of view.
"This is my last time."
"What do you mean?"
"I'm in for this time, but that's it. No more after that. And I'm serious. No one is going to 'guilt' me into it. I've done enough."
Marco and Jake[src]

The Predator, published in December 1996 and written by K.A. Applegate, is the fifth book in the Animorphs series. It is the first book narrated by Marco.


Official Description

Marco never wanted to be an Animorph. He never wanted the ability to change into any animal he touches. He just wants to chill. Whatever happens, happens.

Jake, Rachel, Cassie, and Tobias know why Marco feels the way he does. He's worried about his dad -- the only family Marco has left. And if anything happens to him, his father will be all alone.

But something is about to change Marco's mind. It seems the Yeerks have a little surprise waiting for him. And it's definitely not nice. Now Marco has a reason to fight...

Plot Summary

Marco is walking home one night from getting some groceries at a 7-Eleven when he hears an old man getting mugged by some punks in a dark alley. He decides to step in by using his gorilla morph to take care of the punks, but the old man gets scared and grabs a gun that one of the punks had and starts shooting, Marco high-tails it out of there. The next day, the Animorphs meet out in a meadow where they talk about stealing a Yeerk ship so that Ax can use it to get back home and inform the Andalites how desperate the situation on Earth is.

Jake, Marco, and Ax (in human morph) go to the mall to get the components needed to create a Yeerk distress beacon. After doing so, Ax tries food with a mouth for the first time and is overwhelmed by taste and goes crazy in the food court, snatching up half-eaten food and gobbling it up. The mall cops step in and try to stop Ax, but he makes a break for it and begins morphing back to Andalite form.

The first-page illustration of The Predator, featuring Marco in his gorilla morph, ready to deal with some punks who are trying to mug an old man.

That's when Jake and Marco find out one of the mall cops is a Controller. They head for a grocery store where they quickly acquire and morph into lobsters and hide out in the lobster tank until things calm down. They soon find themselves in a bag of ice and about to be boiled alive; they quickly demorph, freaking out the lady that purchased them, but they convince her it's all a dream. That night, Marco wakes up from a nightmare, and his dad checks on him because he said "Mom."

The next day, Ax finishes building the distress beacon, but unfortunately, it is useless without a Z-space transponder. The Animorphs figure that Chapman would have one, so they sneak into Chapman's basement room undetected (where Rachel had been previously in cat morph) by morphing black garden ants. Their experience in ant morph is nightmareish because ants are machine-like with no sense of self and because the tunnels they went through felt cramped and claustrophobic. When they finally get into Chapman's basement room and get the transponder, they also learn that Visser One is coming by to see how the Earth invasion is going. As the Animorphs head out, they're confronted and almost killed by an army of enemy ants but are able to demorph in time. 

The Animorphs meet in Cassie's barn after Ax finishes the distress beacon to discuss where and when to lay their trap. While Jake and Marco are walking home together, Marco tells Jake he's had enough of fighting, and after he helps Ax use the distress beacon to call the Bug fighter, he's done being an Animorph. He says he doesn't want his father to leave flowers at two graves, for both him and his mom. Marco is surprised that Jake takes this admission well.

Animorphs morphed in battle morphs The Predator Japanese illustration

The Animorphs in battle morphs.

A few days later, on Saturday, the Animorphs fly out toward a quarry to set their trap. They assume their battle morphs, with Ax staying in his natural Andalite form. Ax then activates the distress beacon and minutes later, a Bug fighter lands. However, instead of just the one Hork-Bajir and one Taxxon they expect from the Bug Fighter, they discover they are surrounded on all sides by Visser Three and an army of Hork-Bajir, each armed with a Dracon beam. It turns out that the Yeerks had figured out the Animorphs had laid a trap and used it to trap them instead. The Animorphs are taken captive and brought onboard the Blade ship, where they travel to the Yeerk Pool ship in orbit high above Earth's surface. There, they meet Visser One, whose host body is a human female, but one that Marco, as well as Jake, recognizes: it's Marco's mother, who was thought to have died in a boating accident two years ago. They see that Visser One and Visser Three don't really get along before being escorted to a holding cell. 

Animorphs in escape pod from pool ship The Predator japanese illustration

Marco in gorilla morph, and the rest of the Animorphs, in the escape pod ejected from the Pool ship that will send them back to Earth.

They try to figure out how to escape when Hork-Bajir who serve under Visser One appear and tell them they can get to an escape pod. They first think it's a trap, but realize that they are being given these instructions because Visser One wants Visser Three to be humiliated for letting the "Andalite bandits" escape. They battle their way to a bottomless elevator-like tube called a dropshaft, and take it into the escape pod room, where they get into an escape pod that is programmed to return them to Earth in the same area where they were initially seized.

The next day on Sunday, Marco and his father visit his mom's grave on the two year anniversary of her "death". Marco's father comments that he hasn't been a very good father to Marco lately (because of his despair over Marco's mother's death), and he doesn't think Marco's mother would want him to give up and continue working as a janitor. He has talked to his old boss, Jerry, about getting back to his work as an engineer. Marco is proud of his dad, and thinks back to his discovery that his mother is not dead. He now knows he has a reason to fight the Yeerks and remain an Animorph: to free his mother.


Visser One aboard the Pool Ship The Predator Japanese Illustration

Visser One in the Pool ship, as seen by the Animorphs as they are being held captive (Japanese illustration).

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:


Major/Highlighted Events

  • Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill decides to leave Earth in order to return to the Andalite homeworld, which he plans to do so by stealing a Yeerk Bug fighter. In order to lure the Bug fighter, he decides to build a distress beacon, using parts obtained from Radio Shack at the mall. During their visit to the mall, Ax becomes overwhelmed by his sense of taste, and is chased by mall security. In the chaos, he demorphs publicly, causing Jake, Marco and Ax to flee from both mall security and city police by running into a grocery store and morphing lobster in the seafood section. While they do manage to escape being caught by the Controllers, the three are purchased as food and nearly boiled alive as a meal.
  • Using the parts purchased from the mall, Ax states that all he needs is a Z-space transponder, with Tobias theorizes Chapman would have. The five, minus Tobias, acquire and morph black garden ants obtained from an ant colony on Cassie's farm, and invade an enemy ant colony in Chapman's backyard. While they do manage to steal the transponder, the enemy ants attempt to kill them, and the Animorphs endure the pain and torture of being stung with poison while having their limbs torn off. They decide to demorph, and the experience of being nearly massacred, along with the ant's hive mind robbing them of their individual mental state, cause the Animorphs to vow to never morph ants again, a vow that is brought up multiple times in the series henceforth.
  • Marco, who has been a reluctant Animorph from the beginning, declares to Jake that their mission to get Ax home will be his last. In the first book, Marco only tagged along in order to save Tom on Jake's behalf. His only morphing role in the second book, other than morphing birds recreationally, was to save Jake and Rachel from being captured. In the third book, he begrudgingly tags along with the Animorphs' plan to uncloak the Yeerk truck ship, citing that he is only participating to protect his friends and because exposing the ship publicly would most likely alleviate them from their duties. In the fourth book, Rachel is fed up with Marco's reluctant behavior, although Marco agrees to join the Andalite rescue mission as tribute for Elfangor-Sirinial-Shamtul being killed in front of their eyes for attempting to save humanity. However, nearly being killed by sharks in the rescue attempt, coupled with the lobster and ant incident on the same week as his mother's two-year death anniversary, reminds Marco that his father, depressed and empty after his wife's death, would not survive if he dies as well. Jake accepts Marco's resignation, and Marco joins the others for his final mission the next day.
  • Ax's plan becomes a bust when Visser Three arrives, announcing that he noticed the distress beacon using the wrong frequency. He kidnaps them on his Blade ship and leaves Earth, heading for the Yeerk mother ship, in order to parade them to his superior, Visser One, who uses a human host.
  • Marco discovers that his mother is actually Visser One's host, and that her drowning two years ago, an incident in which her body was never found, was faked. In order to prevent Visser Three from using this capture to overthrow her, Visser One arranges for the Animorphs to return back to Earth. Marco asks Jake, who recognized his mother, having met her many times in the past, to not share this information with the other teammates, who are unaware of her identity. Marco sheds his former reluctant behavior, wanting to fully engage in the war effort in a bid to free his mother from her infestation.
  • The six Animorphs engage in their first true combat situation against the Yeerks. While Jake, Marco and Rachel did briefly encounter a few Hork-Bajir in the first book, and Jake engaging in a skirmish with Visser Three in the second book, this marks the first time all six are embroiled in high-stakes combat for the first time.
  • Marco's father, who sold his house and car, stopped working and moved to a run-down apartment after his wife's death, decides to overcome his depression and guilt and go back to work in a bid to move on and support his family once again.
  • The existence and function of the Pool ship is first shown. This plays an important role in the Animorphs knowing that another Kandrona source still exists after they destroy the Earth-based Kandrona in The Stranger.
  • Zero space is mentioned for the first time.


Morpher Morphs acquired Morphs used
Jake American Lobster, Black Garden Ant American Lobster, Black Garden Ant, Peregrine Falcon, Siberian Tiger
Rachel Black Garden Ant Black Garden Ant, Bald Eagle, African Elephant
Cassie Black Garden Ant Black Garden Ant, Osprey, Wolf
Marco American Lobster, Black Garden Ant Silverback Gorilla (Big Jim), American Lobster, Black Garden Ant, Osprey
Ax American Lobster, Black Garden Ant, Northern Harrier Human, American Lobster, Black Garden Ant, Northern Harrier

TV Adaptation

To be added


  • The cover quote is, "What you see isn't always what you get...."
  • The inside front cover quote is, "Monkey see, monkey do...."
  • This is the second book in which the cover art does not depict a morph acquired in the book.
  • This book marks the first time that the Animorphs leave their hometown, as well as the first time they leave Earth.
  • Ax is the first Animorph to communicate to a Yeerk/Controller using thought-speak; he is also the first Animorph to speak to Visser Three.
  • Marco reveals that Rachel's favorite phrase to use prior to a mission is "Let's do it!", a catchphrase that would be mentioned multiple times in the series henceforth. Ironically, Marco first used the catchphrase in The Encounter while Rachel used "insane", which would become Marco's word of choice.

Book 5 Iron-on Transfer that came attached in the book

  • Promotional Tie-in: This book came attached with a free iron-on shirt decal.
  • The book's title, The Predator, refers to the Yeerk Pool ship, which this book introduces (but usually refers to as the "Yeerk Mother Ship". As Marco looks out the window of the Blade Ship, he observes, noting the Pool Ship's massive size, "It just hung in orbit, like a predator gazing down hungrily at blue Earth below."
  • This was the only book cover in the entire series to show Marco with longer hair. Starting with Marco's next cover (The Android) Marco would have his hair in a shortened style for the rest of the series.
Animorphs predator spanish depredador marco lobster

Marco morphing lobster on the spanish edition cover. For some reason, many of the international edition books featured the Marco/lobster morph instead of the Marco/gorilla morph.

  • This is also the first time the word "demorph" is used; the previous books used variations such as "morph out" or "morph back" or merely "morph".
  • During the ambush at the quarry, the fire from the Dracon beams are described as "Zzzzzzaaaapppp"; however, in other instances henceforth, the firing is describe as "TSEWWW".
  • The UK, French, Argentinian Spanish, Brazilian, Portuguese, Dutch, and Polish edition's cover art depicts Marco morphing into a lobster rather than a gorilla. This is the only book where international editions featured a different cover morph.
  • This marks the first time when Ax tries out human food, as well as the first occurrence of his love of human food, cinnamon buns in particular, as well as his tendency to play with mouth sounds through vocal speech.
  • ANIBASE : One some of the stepbacks (inside covers) -- the pages behind the front cover that show a scene from a book -- cover artist David Mattingly would hide little images of his beloved, deceased cat Orson, as well as some other surprises. If you look on the brick wall on the stepback of this book, you can see "ORSON" spray-painted across it in white, and the initials "DBM" to the left in black, right above "96" -- the year the cover was made. Below Orson but above the trashcan is the name of another of David's cats, "MOUSE". There're a few more hidden images (of David's other cover work) and even part of the name of another of David's cats, but you'll have to find those for yourself.


  • Marco asks Ax when he has fought any Controller, and Ax admits he hasn't. However, Ax did briefly engage in a skirmish with Taxxon-Controllers at the end of the previous book.
  • After demorphing from lobster to Andalite, Ax's speech is written with quotation marks. This is fixed in the reprint.
  • There is a sentence where Dracon is mistakenly written with lowercase letters; this is fixed in the reprint.
  • While on the Pool ship, Ax tells the Animorphs: "We have been in morph for forty percent of the allowable time." However, as Ax was not in morph, he should have said "You". This is fixed in the reprint.
  • Visser Three tells Visser One that she could return to the Yeerk homeworld; however, in The Hork-Bajir Chronicles, set before the Yeerk invasion of Earth, it is stated that the planet is under Andalite quarantine. Additionally, VISSER (set during the middle-final half of the series) confirms that the homeworld is still under quarantine after all these years.
  • Upon meeting all six of the Animorphs for the first time, Visser Three wonders why Ax is the only one who speaks to him and is in Andalite form and why the others, whom he has never seen in Andalite form nor has he heard speak before, continue to remain silent and in morph. He finds it curious and deliberates on this thought. However, for the following three years, the Animorphs continue to face him, with them almost always in the same battle morphs and Ax in Andalite form doubling as their spokesperson, and yet Visser Three never remarks again why it is always the same Andalite, who is not in morph, who speaks to him, while the others in animal morph remain silent.

2011 Relaunch Differences

  • The original 1996 edition has Spider-Man's name written as "Spiderman"; the 2011 reprint correctly spells it with the hyphen.
  • Tobias is referred to as a "red-tail hawk" in the original edition, much like he was in The Encounter; however, the 2011 reprints for both books rectify this error by stating it as "red-tailed hawk".
  • Ax's full name is spelled Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthil, whereas it should be spelled Isthill. This is fixed in the reprint.
  • In the original edition, Marco remarks "Hey, that's my hair!" when witnessing Ax's human morph. In the reprint, the emphasis on "my" is removed.
  • Marco's statement about the mall on a Saturday including "Good-looking girls carrying bags from The Limited" is changed to "Good-looking girls carrying bags from clothing stores"; additionally, Jake's mention of Circuit City in the original 1996 edition is changed to a generic "the computer place" in the 2011 reprint.
  • The original 1996 edition has Jake refer to Starbucks as "the coffee place." This is removed in the reprint due to the surging popularity of Starbucks at the time of the relaunch, rendering the additional explanation irrelevant.
  • Cinnabun is changed to Cinnabon.
  • After demorphing from lobster to Andalite, Ax's speech is written with quotation marks. This is fixed in the reprint.
  • Marco's line: "Neither of us had bought a new CD lately" is changed to "Neither of us had bought a new album lately."
  • Marco compares a Hork-Bajir to a Cuisinart in the original edition. The reprint changes this to "food processor."
  • The original has a paragraph where Dracon is mistakenly written with lowercase letters; this is fixed in the reprint.
  • While on the Pool ship, Ax tells the Animorphs: "We have been in morph for forty percent of the allowable time." However, as Ax was not in morph, he should have said "You". This is fixed in the reprint.
  • The original 1996 edition spells it as J.C. Penney's while the 2011 reprint changes it to "JCPenney".
  • The spelling of "Salad Shooter" is changed to "SaladShooter".
  • Doom is mentioned in the 1996 edition; the 2011 reprint changes it to "just about anything that required two hands and a screen."


US images

International Covers (Gorilla morph)

International Covers (Lobster Morph)

Japanese Illustrations

International Back Covers

2011 Re-release


  1. [1]
Main Series #1 The Invasion | #2 The Visitor | #3 The Encounter | #4 The Message | #5 The Predator | #6 The Capture | #7 The Stranger | #8 The Alien | #9 The Secret | #10 The Android | #11 The Forgotten | #12 The Reaction | #13 The Change | #14 The Unknown | #15 The Escape | #16 The Warning | #17 The Underground | #18 The Decision | #19 The Departure | #20 The Discovery | #21 The Threat | #22 The Solution | #23 The Pretender | #24 The Suspicion | #25 The Extreme | #26 The Attack | #27 The Exposed | #28 The Experiment | #29 The Sickness | #30 The Reunion | #31 The Conspiracy | #32 The Separation | #33 The Illusion | #34 The Prophecy | #35 The Proposal | #36 The Mutation | #37 The Weakness | #38 The Arrival | #39 The Hidden | #40 The Other | #41 The Familiar | #42 The Journey | #43 The Test | #44 The Unexpected | #45 The Revelation | #46 The Deception | #47 The Resistance | #48 The Return | #49 The Diversion | #50 The Ultimate | #51 The Absolute | #52 The Sacrifice | #53 The Answer | #54 The Beginning
Megamorphs The Andalite's Gift | In the Time of Dinosaurs | Elfangor's Secret | Back to Before
Chronicles The Andalite Chronicles | The Hork-Bajir Chronicles | VISSER | The Ellimist Chronicles
Alternamorphs The First Journey | The Next Passage
TV Tie-Ins Meet the Stars of Animorphs