Yes, alligators eat their young. While mothers take special care of their babies, it is the father alligator that preys on juvenile gators.
Studies show that roughly 7% of baby alligators are unfortunate enough to become meals by adults. Even mothers eat baby gators, but it is rare. Rather, it is the other adult gators that prey on someone else’s juveniles.
Do alligators eat themselves?
No, they do not eat themselves. They eat other alligators if food is scarce. Alligators are like their cousins, the crocodiles, in the sense that they also cannibalize their kind.
Alligators, unlike primates, do not have a high level or sense of emotions. Mother gators take care of their babies, but these babies cannot depend on the mother for long.
In addition, the baby gators must hunt for themselves. When they do, they are vulnerable as they are far from their mother. If this happens, the other adult gators will eat them if the mother is away.
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Do mother alligators eat their babies?
No, they do not eat their babies. Alligators are excellent moms. Alligators protect their nest, ensuring that predators will not eat their eggs. They also defend their hatchlings from other gators.
In the wild, mother alligators can become aggressively territorial if they have a nest or hatchlings. It is one reason why humans get hurt. When people or other animals come close to a nest, the mother alligator will fight.
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Do alligators cannibalize?
Yes, alligators cannibalize, but not their babies. It is not the mother that does this, but the other gators. Other alligators cannibalize to weed out the population. With lesser alligators, there would be more food for the remaining population.
Researchers know this because they tagged alligators. They made this study in Florida. Over the years, they studied 267 alligators that hunters killed. Out of these, 33 stomachs had tags, which meant that they ate the alligators that were tagged.
Out of the 33 stomachs, the total tags were 56. What this information tells the researchers is that some adult gators ate not one but several juvenile gators. There was even one that ate 14 alligators.
Based on the study, 91% of the victims were less than three years old. These, of course, were juveniles and could not fight the adults.
The next move was to find out the rate of cannibalism. To do this, the researchers needed to find out how long the tags stayed in a gator’s tummy. Some of these tags may be excreted. What they did was feed ten alligators with tags.
The goal of this exercise was to test what happens to the tags. They wanted to find out how long the tags stay in the gator’s tummy before going out with a gator’s excrement.
These gators were put in regular X-ray sessions. The scientists found out that the tags stayed in the gators’ tummies most of the time. By the end of the study, 76% of the tags were intact. This figure should be enough to conclude that in general, they do stay in the tummy of gators.
Now, taking into account the population of the gators, the estimate of the study is that 7% of gators end up as meals for the big ones.
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Do alligators eat their own eggs?
No, alligators do not eat their eggs. The mothers protect their eggs and their hatchlings. The animals that eat gator eggs are predators. There is no documentation of gators cannibalizing their eggs.
Raccoons are the primary predator of alligator eggs. Rats, pigs, and even ants will eat an alligator’s eggs. On some occasions, otters and bears will also attack an alligator’s nest. These predators eat gator eggs when the mother alligator is hunting food.
Once the eggs hatch, the juveniles are highly vulnerable. Raccoons eat juvenile gators, too. Wading birds and big fishes will also prey on baby gators. In Florida, there was a photographer who captured a bird eating a whole alligator.
However, the most significant predator of the gator is its fellows. Big alligators do not mind eating their own kind. Although alligators are social animals, they are still vicious carnivores. They will not hesitate to eat baby gators if the opportunity presents itself.
Why do alligators eat each other?
Alligators eat each other for two reasons: food scarcity and population control. Alligators are huge animals, which means they must eat a lot of meat.
An alligator typically lays between 35 and 50 eggs. Some can lay 90 eggs. When these eggs hatch, the baby gators do not significantly impactthe food supply.
Baby gators are small. They eat small animals like frogs and insects. However, once they have grown, they now have to feed more. Because of this, the supply is imbalanced.
To bring back this balance in the food supply chain, the gators must reduce their population. Given that gators live long, it also means that if these babies grow, they will all experience a food shortage. It is a bad situation, as many will die if there is a severe food problem.
In cannibalism, it is the adult who always wins. Adult gators are more powerful and more experienced. They will hunt the juveniles and will keep doing so until they “feel” that the population is stable.
When food is scarce, the gators will eat their fellows. There are videos proving that big gators can eat another gator that is at least six feet long.
In the wild, it is all about brute force and power. About 80% of all these hatchings will die from predation and cannibalism when the eggs hatch.
Summary: do alligators eat their young?
Yes, they do. It is not the mother gator that eats the young, but the father. Father gators do not know who their offspring are. When they see the juveniles in water, they will attack. Mother alligators are good at parenthood. They project their eggs, and they continue doing this even after the eggs hatch. In the wild, it is estimated that 7% of baby gators die due to cannibalism.
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