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What Do Alligators Eat? (Almost Anything!)

Alligators are carnivores. However, it is surprising that they will also eat fruits for a snack. Alligators are not picky eaters, and scientists classify them as opportunistic feeders. Common food for alligators include fish and small amphibians.

An alligator stalking a bird

Alligators eat anything that they find in the wild. They prey on turtles, fish, birds, small mammals and other small reptiles.

Foods That Alligators Eat

1. Berries, Fruits, and Grapes

Alligators deliberately eat fruits in the wild. Scientists are still not sure why they do this. There is so much to learn about how alligators process carbohydrates in their bodies. However, some studies show that eating fruits provide nutritional value to alligators. 

2. Fish 

Fish is one of the main components of the alligator diet. In the wild, the alligators live in bodies of fresh water such as lakes and swamps. They dive deep, sometimes swallowing stones to help them sink. 

When alligators catch fish, they snap and use their powerful jaws. One technique that an alligator uses is to swim underneath fish and snap at them from below, where they can’t see it coming.

Crocodile swimming in clear water
Alligators tend to live near lakes, swamps, or rivers, where fish are plentiful

3. Turtles

Alligators have between 2,000 and 3,000 pounds per square inch of force in their bite. It means that they have the power to break a turtle’s shell. A turtle’s shell is extremely hard. It can withstand thousands of pounds of pressure. 

A tortoise has a fracture toughness of 36.4 MPa m1/2. Fracture toughness is a scientific measurement of how much force it takes to break something. As such, the turtle’s shell is tougher than aluminium. 

4. Monkeys

Alligators eat monkeys in the wild. In Florida, there are colonies of rhesus monkeys that may find themselves in alligator territory. When these monkeys go near the water, the alligator will attack.

Monkeys and alligators do not typically live in the same location. If they do, monkeys spend much of their time in trees, which the alligators cannot climb. It is only when monkeys swim or go to the riverbank that they become unfortunate enough to become prey. 

Rhesus macaque
In Florida, introduced Rhesus monkeys share a habitat with alligators

Related Article: Do Monkey Eat Butterflies?

5. Amphibians

Alligators will only eat what they can subdue. If they are small, they do not have the power to hunt large prey. Size is always a key to an alligator’s hunting activities. 

Baby and juvenile gators eat frogs. There are many documented videos of alligators eating frogs. Some even eat marine toads, which are highly toxic. Despite the size of alligators, they are not immune to the toxicity of some toads. 

FAQs

Do Alligators Eat Humans?

Alligators have been known to eat humans, but it is not common. American alligators do not prey on humans. However, they will attack if provoked. 

There are instances of alligators attacking children and the elderly. However, they generally avoid contact with humans. 

There was a news story about a missing man in Florida allegedly eaten by an alligator. He was 71-year-old Timothy Satterlee Sr. His wife reported that an alligator attacked Timothy. 

Authorities found that alligator, and when they opened it, they had reasons to believe that human remains were in the alligator. The alligator was 12 feet in length and weight 504 pounds. 

Do Alligators Eat Fruit?

Yes, alligators eat fruits and vegetables. They will eat anything from wild grapes to citrus fruits. Some of them will even eat apples and corn.

According to experts, it is not clear how alligators in the wild pick the plant matter that they eat. Some alligators eat fruits as they fall from the tree to the water. In that case, the alligator snaps on the fruit as a reflex. 

Today, it is still a mystery why alligators eat fruits in the wild. However, scientists know that they can break down protein and carbohydrates from plant matter. They can also digest and proves fat from vegetables. 

Do Alligators Eat Watermelon?

Alligators do eat watermelon. There was a viral incident in Florida where an alligator apparently had a sweet tooth. The alligator was photographed with a whole watermelon in its mouth. The gator stole the watermelon from a field. 

A scientist said it was unusual but said alligators could taste sweet things. Some people even feed marshmallows to alligators. When an alligator gets a taste of watermelon and likes it, it would come back for more.

Do Alligators Eat Other Alligators

It is a common practice among American alligators to eat others of their own species. If food is scarce, the big alligators will prey on the juveniles. They would even eat gators from their own group. 

They do this to ut down competition for food. They also do it for territory. As an apex predators, alligators cut down on their own number to maintain an ecological balance. 

Research back in the 1980s showed that gators are cannibals. The scientists tagged baby alligators. In six years, they found 56 of these tags in the stomachs of adults. In the wild, more than 90% of young alligators, three years old and below, die in the hands of their kind.

Do Alligators Eat Turtles

Yes, alligators eat turtles. There are many turtles in Florida and in other alligator habitats. The abundance of turtles makes them easy prey for alligators. 

However, only the big alligators can chomp on turtles. These turtles have powerful shells that require a lot of strength to crack. Small alligators cannot eat turtles; they do not have the power to crack its shell. 

Small turtles, however, are a different matter. The smaller the turtle and the bigger the alligator, the easier it is to feed on it. 

If the alligator is not powerful enough, it will eventually let go of the turtle. An excellent example of that is a video showing an alligator attempting to eat a turtle, to no avail.  

Small turtle in swamp
Small turtles are easy prey for alligators

Conclusion: What Do Alligators Eat?

Alligators are carnivores, but they also munch on fruits like berries. In captivity, they eat watermelons. Caretakers in zoos feed them watermelons to show the crowd the power of their bite. Alligators cannot be classified as omnivores because they cannot live on plants alone. 

Alligators eat humans but prefer to avoid any human contact. Therefore, in instances where humans get attacked, it is usually because they provoked the gator. Also, most humans that fall prey to the gator are the elderly or children. 

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