Alligators are carnivores, which means they eat many animals such as fish, insects, and amphibians. They also eat snakes, turtles, mammals, and birds.
Alligators are opportunistic feeders. What this means is that they eat what is easily accessible. Their eating habits, or diet, depend on their age and size. Some adults also cannibalize small alligators.
Foods That Alligators in Florida Eat
Small alligators, especially those a year old or less, eat snails and other crustaceans. They do this if their environment is conducive to these animals. Of course, it is likely since alligators live in bodies of freshwater.
2. Insects and Worms
Baby alligators are the ones that do this. Since they are very small, they feed on insects and worms that they can find on land.
At just a week old, baby alligators are camouflaged. They have yellow bands, which makes them difficult to see. It is also perfect for their survival, as they are only eight inches, and predators can eat them. Baby alligators usually hunt at night.
Alligators have powerful jaws. They can snap on turtles, and there are videos online where people can see how an alligator snaps a turtle with its jaws. Turtles, however, are not a regular part of an alligator’s diet.
Why is this? If the turtles are small, it is easy for the alligator to eat them. But if the turtle has grown, it is a challenge for the alligator. Since alligators are opportunistic feeders, they would rather eat something else.
Even at a young age, an alligator would eat fish—small fish, that is. While juveniles have the instinct to hunt, they have not mastered this skill yet. Oftentimes, their hunting is a hit and miss.
Large alligators in Florida eat mammals. Most of the time, they eat coypu, which is also called nutria. It is a large semi-aquatic rodent. They live in burrows along the water, and this is why alligators can prey on them.
Alligators in Florida also eat muskrat, another type of semi-aquatic rodent that is common in North America. When alligators get big, they are even known to hunt bears and panthers.
6. Birds and Reptiles
Alligators also eat snakes and other reptiles, especially in the lizard family. The big ones can attack birds. It is difficult to catch birds, but alligators succeed if the bird is unsuspecting or if it is hurt.
Some birds get caught in vegetation, and the alligator will use that opportunity to prey on the poor bird. However, this does not happen all the time. Some birds even use the alligators for their safety!
Related Article: Do Alligators Hibernate?
Do Alligators in Florida Eat People?
In Florida, alligator attacks are extremely rare, and it’s even more rare for an alligator to eat a person. Alligators are scared of humans, and they want nothing to do with people. If an alligator sees a human being, it does not see the human as prey.
However, it does not mean that the alligator will not attack. It will if it feels threatened. Humans are advised not to feed alligators, as this can make the alligators lose their natural fear of people. If this happens, alligators may begin to look at people as food sources.
Do Alligators in Florida Eat Turtles?
There are five species of turtles in Florida, each of which is potential prey for an alligator. Alligators have a bite force that is strong enough to break a turtle’s shell, however, turtles are not easy prey for alligators so they are more likely to eat fish.
Alligators do not eat turtles if they have other food sources. If food is scarce, then the turtle will definitely be on the menu.
Do Alligators in Florida Eat Fish?
Fish are the largest component of an alligator’s diet.
Alligators typically hunt in shallow waters. When adults prey on fish, they jump while in shallow water and snap on the target.
Do Alligators in Florida Eat Crocodiles?
Alligators do not eat crocodiles in Florida, even though both of them can be found in the same locations.
Alligators can only be found in the US and China. Crocodiles are everywhere, but they are most abundant in Africa and Asia. Despite living together in south Florida, there are no reports or eyewitness accounts of alligators preying on crocodiles.
It is not also likely to happen, as crocodiles are generally bigger than alligators. If anything, it is possible that it is the other way around. It is also likely that some adult alligators may prey on juvenile crocodiles.
Do Alligators in Florida Eat Watermelon?
Fruit don’t make up part of an alligator’s regular diet, however, there was a viral photo recently of an alligator eating watermelon from a watermelon field.
Experts suggest that this particular alligator tasted something sweet before and liked it. Alligators, like humans, can taste sweet things. In the wild, it is not unusual for humans to feed alligators with marshmallows and watermelons.
It is possible that this alligator had tasted watermelon before and liked it. When it found the watermelon field, it took a bite.
Do Snakes Eat Alligators in Florida?
Recently there has been an infestation of Burmese pythons in Florida, and these pythons are eating the alligators. They are an invasive species and are now a cause of alarm in the everglades.
Many python pet owners released these animals in the wild, where they mated and multiplied at an alarming rate. Now, these pythons are damaging the ecosystem and can hurt the habitat of the alligators.
Alligators are opportunistic predators. Alligators in Florida will eat just about anything, but their diet has dependencies on their size, habitat, and the options available.
Alligators also cannibalize each other. It is why their survival rate is so low. Even if mother alligators would protect their young, these juveniles are still no match for adults.
Stuart is the editor of Fauna Facts. He edits our writers’ work as well as contributing his own content. Stuart is passionate about sustainable farming and animal welfare and has written extensively on cows and geese for the site.