What do alligators eat?

What do alligators eat?

Crocodylia is the order in which alligators fall. Gigantic in stature, they’re easily recognized by their round snouts and dark coloring.

Fish, mollusks, birds, and small mammals are all prey for alligators, which are primarily carnivorous. Fruits are sometimes deliberately consumed by them.

Scientists have discovered only two alligator species, both of which can be found in two different regions of the world.

Compared to their crocodile relatives, alligators have blunt snouts, are not as tolerant of salty water, and are smaller in size.

Amphibians, mammals, fish, and birds all make up a significant portion of the American Alligator’s diet, which also includes invertebrates. The green tree frog, feral hog, largemouth bass, spotted gar, and yellow mud turtle is all examples of prey for this animal.

Rocks and bottle caps are among the non-prey items that the American alligator eats from time to time.

The American alligator is a reptile that can only be found in North America, hence its name. Compared to the Chinese alligator, it has the widest global distribution.

Alligators can be found in temperate regions, particularly those that are near freshwater.

Human-made water sources have also been found to be frequented by these creatures.

In what ways do alligators prey on prey?

Alligator hunting is an ever-changing endeavor.

During hunting, alligators rely on their keen eyesight and functional mechanical sensory organs to detect movement in the water.

Once the alligators spot their prey, they swoop in and begin dragging it under the water.

To prevent the alligator from snatching it first, this must be done.

Additionally, scientists have discovered that alligators use tools to catch their prey. The tools they use are designed to entice unwary animals to come closer to their position of safety.

Sticks are used by these enormous reptiles to attract nesting birds, which are looking for sticks with which to construct their nests.

It’s not uncommon for alligators to attack and drown birds that get too close.

It is important to know when alligators eat. Alligators hunt and feed at night. When it comes to prey, they prefer to hunt and eat at night.

Do Alligators Eat Frequently?

Because alligators have a lower metabolic rate than warm-blooded animals, they eat less frequently.

After consuming a raccoon, an adult alligator can live for up to a week. Depending on the time of year, alligators may eat more frequently or less frequently.

When the weather gets cold, for example, their metabolism slows down and they begin a process known as brumation.

Alligators go into a deep slumber known as brumation during the winter months.

Alligators don’t eat as much in the winter as they do in the summer.

Is There Anything That Eats Alligators?

Alligator predation is influenced by the alligator’s life cycle stage. There are a number of larger animals that prey on smaller animals like alligators’ eggs, hatchlings, and babies.

Because of their position at the top of the food chain and lack of natural predators, alligators as adults have few natural enemies.

For food and other purposes, humans hunt alligators for their meat (skin and teeth).

As part of the animal food chain, alligators play a significant role. These organisms are the top predators in their ecosystem, so they keep the population in check.

The chances of escaping an alligator are slim once it has caught prey.

A moderately sized mammal bone or a turtle’s shell can be broken by an alligator’s powerful bite.

Weighing 450 pounds, a 12-foot alligator’s bite force was measured at 2,209 pounds!

Always remember not to feed alligators!

An alligator’s natural prey does not include humans. In fact, humans tend to terrify alligators.

Feeding alligators, on the other hand, diminish their natural apprehension of humans.

People are at risk of being attacked by gators if they come to associate humans with food (especially smaller people). As a result, it is illegal in Florida to feed wild alligators.

According to statute 372.667, feeding alligators or crocodiles is a misdemeanor.

Signs warning people not to feed the alligators are commonplace near freshwater bodies. A $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail are the maximum penalties for violating this rule.

You can best appreciate and respect Florida’s wildlife by taking in the scenery. Let nature take its course when it comes to feeding wild animals.

See these alligators in their natural habitat if you so desire.

If you’re looking for the best Lake Panasoffkee tour in Florida, look no further than Swamp Fever Airboat Adventures.

It’s possible to catch a glimpse of alligators in the wild, but they’re more commonly seen sunbathing and relaxing on the shores of Lake Panasoffkee in Florida.

Everyone in the family will have a great time on an airboat ride with Swamp Fever Airboat Adventures!

Get up close and personal with alligators in their natural habitat – but safe – with this guided tour. Purchase tickets for the best airboat tour in Florida here!

Alligator Attacks: Do Alligators Eat People?

Alligators are large reptiles that live in the Americas and China. In North, South, and Central America (if you include their close cousin, caimans), they are found in coastal areas. Chinese Alligators are found in the basin of the Yangtze River.

In the United States, the American alligator has a range that extends from the Rio Grande River in Texas across the Southeast and have a maximum northern range of North Carolina. They prefer freshwater environments, but rarely live more than a few hundred miles from the ocean.

These animals are wild and can be dangerous. It’s never a good idea to get purposefully close to an alligator, tempt, or provoke it in any way.

However, alligator attacks are fairly rare—and they eat people even less commonly. Only a small fraction of attacks are deadly, and often the remains are found intact after an attack.

In this article, we’ll discuss everything there is to know about alligator attacks—from their powerful bite force, how to prevent an attack, and what to do if a gator does bite you.

Alligator Attacks: Are they Common?

baby alligator and mother

There were 8 fatalities in the United States from alligator attacks between 2010-2019.

It seems like we hear about alligator attacks often! But are they as common as they seem? There have actually been just 401 registered alligator bites in Florida since 1948. Of these, only a small percentage were fatal.

Alligators like to hunt easy prey, and they’re usually scared of people!

But when alligators do attack, they can run at speeds up to 30 miles per hour (MPH) on land. In the water, where they’re difficult to see, they can swim up to 20 MPH.

By contrast, the fastest humans can run a little over 25 miles per hour and swim 5-6 miles per hour. Since most of us aren’t Olympic athletes, we’re often much slower than this!

We tend to think of alligators as sedentary creatures, but this perceived laziness is actually them storing energy. Once they’re ready to move, they’re very quick!

In addition, an alligator’s bite force is over 2,000 pounds per square inch (PSI). Humans have a bite force of 150 PSI and large dogs such as German Shepherds have one of just under 240 PSI.

What do Alligators Eat?

What Do Alligators Eat

Alligators eat a diet that includes fish, turtles, small mammals, and birds.

Alligators typically eat small prey that is easy to take down. They don’t like putting in too much work for a meal!

You can expect to see an alligator munching on tiny creatures like:

They are opportunists, however, and may also eat other alligators or dead animals that they come across.

When targeting large prey, they typically try to drag it under water and drown it. We see this often when gators attack humans as well.

Do Alligators Eat People?

As we’ve discussed, alligator attacks are pretty rare in themselves. Would an alligator eat a human after killing one, though? What about if they came across a dead body?

Alligators eating humans isn’t unheard of. Occasionally, an alligator has been found to have human remains in their stomachs.

However, there have been plenty of attacks where the human’s body was later found intact, such as the sad death of a 2-year-old child at Disneyworld in 2016.

If an alligator came across a dead body, it would likely eat that as well—after all, they are opportunistic feeders. The most recent alligator fatality, as of early 2022, was an incident where a 71-year man was killed in Louisiana by a 504 pound alligator. The attack occurred while the man was checking the side of his home for damage during a hurricane.

In total, there were 8 fatal alligator attacks in the United States between 2010-2019. To illustrate how rare they are across much of the alligators’ range, a fatal Texas alligator attack in 2015 was the first fatal alligator attack in the state since 1836.

What Provokes Alligators to Attack People?

Deadliest Animals in America

There have been 401 registered alligator bites in Florida since 1948.

Alligators typically attack for one of the following reasons:

  • Hunting
  • Protecting a nest
  • Aggression from males looking to mate
  • A human provokes the attack

Attacks typically happen in or near the water near shore. Alligators don’t tend to run far from water chasing humans.

How to Prevent Alligator Attacks

Alligator attacks tend to happen in areas frequented by gators such as rivers, creeks, and swamps. They like still, fresh waters.

Gators hunt at night, so avoid these areas past dusk to prevent yourself from running across a hungry alligator.

In addition to hunger, male alligators also tend to attack during mating season around May to June.

Here are some more tips for preventing alligator attacks:

  • Never swim or wade in waters that alligators are known to swim in.
  • Always supervise children in or near water, even if the water is shallow.
  • Don’t swim or wade in water past dusk.
  • Never feed alligators, as this will cause them to associate humans with food.
  • Dispose of trash properly and never toss garbage, especially food, into the water.
  • Keep your distance when observing or photographing gators—getting that close-up isn’t worth your life!
  • Don’t provoke, capture, or kill alligators. This can result in injury to yourself and is also illegal without a permit.
  • Alligators are wild animals and should never be kept as pets.
  • Tall fences are a must to keep gators from your yard, pets, and children. They can and will climb, so make sure your fencing is at least 4.5 feet high.
  • Never approach a dead gator, especially if they are on cement. They might be basking in the sun, and very much alive!

Unfortunately, alligators are more likely to attack children than adults. This is because children are smaller, and might appear less threatening to the animals.

What Should you do if Bitten?

If you are ever bitten by an alligator, you should be loud and fight back. Because they like easy prey, they’re less likely to continue fighting if you give them a challenge.

Aim for the face, particularly their eyes.

If you’re a witness to an alligator attack, be as loud as possible. This might help to scare the gator away.

Lastly, be sure to see a doctor as soon as possible after being attacked by an alligator. Animal bites can very quickly become infected, which can be deadly.

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Katelynn Sobus

I’m an animal writer of four years with a primary focus on educational pet content. I want our furry, feathery, and scaley friends to receive the best care possible! In my free time, I’m usually outdoors gardening or spending time with my nine rescue pets.

What Do Alligators Eat?

what do alligators eat?

What Do Alligators Eat? Alligators are classified under the order Crocodylia. They are giant reptiles notable by their rounded snouts and black color.

Alligators are primarily carnivores feeding on prey like fish, mollusks, other reptiles, birds and small mammals such as monkeys. They at times deliberately feed on fruits.

Table of Contents

Alligators vs. Crocodiles: What is their Distinction?

Often confused with each other, alligators are different from crocodiles.

  • Alligators have a rounded snout, and they spot a black color.
  • Crocodiles have narrow pointed snouts, and they are grey-green.

Differences Between Crocodiles and Alligators and Gharials

Differences Between Crocodiles and Alligators and Gharials

Crocodiles, alligators, and gharials are giant aquatic reptiles that exist in regions throughout the world. Explore critical differences between them.

What Do Alligators Eat?

Scientists have discovered only 2 types of alligators, and they are found in two different parts of the world. These two alligator species are different when looking at their sizes, they have blunt snouts, and they are not tolerant of salty water when compared to their crocodile cousins.

What Do American Alligators Eat?

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Crocodilia Alligatoridae Alligator Alligator mississippiensis

American Alligator’s diet includes invertebrates, amphibians, mammals, fish, and birds. Actual animal examples that are this animal’s prey include the green tree frog, feral hog, largemouth bass, spotted gar, and the yellow mud turtle.

  • The American alligator at times feeds on non-prey items which may include rocks and bottle caps.
  • As its name suggests, the American alligator is native to North America. It has the most extensive distribution globally compared to the Chinese alligator.
  • Its scientific name is Alligator mississippiensis. It inhabits temperate regions, especially those bordering freshwater environs.
  • They have also been noted to occupy human-made water sources.

What Do Chinese Alligators Eat?

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Crocodilia Alligatoridae Alligator Alligator sinensis

what do chinese alligators eat?

Chinese Allegator is a nocturnal predator feeding on small mammals, waterfowl, snails, clams, and fish.

  • This alligator’s scientific name is Alligator sinensis. Compared to the American alligators, the Chinese alligators are smaller.
  • It is also a critically endangered species with only a population of a few hundred. The Chinese alligators typically live on the lower Yangtze River basin in China.
  • Their habitat regions include temperate, freshwater, terrestrial, and tropical areas.
  • These regions include ponds, wetlands, lakes, and freshwater rivers and streams.

How Do Alligators Hunt?

how do alligators hunt?

Hunting for alligators is a dynamic process.

  • Alligators have sharp eyesight and functional mechanical sensory organs which play a pivotal role during hunting because it helps them sense movement in the water.
  • After spotting prey, the alligators launch an attack, and they proceed to drag it underwater. This is essential because the alligator can drown it first.
  • Researchers have also noted that alligators make use of tools to hunt their prey. The tools they use are intended to lure unsuspecting animals towards them.
  • These giant reptiles use sticks to attract nesting birds looking for sticks to build their nests.
  • If the birds get too close, the alligators attack, drown, and feed on them immediately.

How often alligators eat?

Alligators are cold-blooded, and so they do not eat as often as warm-blooded animals would.

  • A grown alligator can survive for a week after eating a raccoon. How often alligators eat is also determined by the season.
  • For instance, during winter, their metabolism slows down to a lethargic state, and they begin a process dubbed brumation.
  • Brumation is a different kind of hibernation where alligators are involved in a deep season induced sleep. During this time, alligators do not eat as they would during summer.

What Eats Alligators?

Predation on alligators depends on the stage of their lifecycle. For instance, eggs, hatchlings, and juvenile alligators are predated upon by larger animals like large birds, large fish, humans, and other alligators.

  • Adult alligators are at the apex of their food chain, meaning they have close to none natural predators.
  • Humans kill alligators for their meat, and also for other parts of their bodies (skin and teeth).

Alligators are instrumental in the animal food chain. These organisms are the apex predators, and so they help keep populations in their ecosystem under check.

What Do Alligators Eat

You’re probably familiar with alligators and their rows of sharp teeth. With such large mouths, you figure they can probably eat a lot of different types of food. But just what do alligators eat, exactly? What are their favorite foods, and how often do they typically eat? Do they ever attack and eat humans? Keep reading! In this article, we’ll answer all of these questions and more.

What You’ll Learn Today

What Do Alligators Eat in Swamps?

what do alligators eat in swamps

Alligators are generally carnivorous creatures, but they may also eat some types of plant matter to support their diet. What they eat depends on their age and size, as well as where they live and what’s available to them.

Some of the foods they eat include:

  • Insects, snails, worms, spiders: Baby alligators eat these smaller animal foods, which are easier for them to catch, chew, and swallow.
  • Birds: Young alligators will eat the fledglings of many types of birds, while adult alligators will frequently eat the adult birds as well.
  • Fish: Alligators tend to live near bodies of water, so fish make up a large part of their diet. Alligators will eat all types and sizes of fish, whatever they can find in their particular region.
  • Mammals: Alligators eat a wide variety of mammals, from small creatures such as raccoons and muskrats to large creatures like bears and panthers. They will occasionally eat pets such as cats and dogs if they have the opportunity, so if you live in an area with alligators, you won’t want to leave your pets unattended outdoors.
  • Reptiles and amphibians: Like fish, reptiles and amphibians are also plentiful in the areas where alligators live. Alligators will eat frogs, snakes, salamanders, turtles, and any other reptiles and amphibians they can find.
  • Each other: Though cannibalism among alligators is rare, adult alligators may eat the young of other alligators during times of extreme food shortage.
  • Fruit: Alligators will sometimes eat fruit that they find growing in their environment, such as oranges and wild grapes.

Most alligators live in swampy areas, where the animal populations are diverse and abundant. Crocodiles living in swamps will eat any and all of the animals outlined above if they can find and catch them.

What is an Alligator’s Favorite Food?

It’s hard to say exactly what an alligator’s favorite food might be, as alligators eat many different kinds of food depending on what’s available. They are opportunistic feeders and, as such, are not picky at all.

Generally, they seem to prefer prey that is smaller than themselves, but they will also hunt much larger prey. Alligators are at the top of the food chain, considered apex predators because they don’t have any natural predators themselves–as noted above, they have even been known to hunt bears and panthers.

In short, alligators enjoy a wide variety of foods and don’t necessarily pick favorites. Check out this video of an alligator attacking a wild hog (warning: graphic):

How Often Do Alligators Eat?

Alligators have slow metabolisms, which means that they don’t have to eat every day. They conserve energy by spending a lot of leisure time relaxing in or near the water.

Alligators can easily go for a week without food after eating an animal as small as a raccoon. They may eat much less than this during the winter, when they enter a hibernation-like state known as brumation.

That said, alligators rarely refuse the opportunity to eat, so they often eat more frequently than they need to.

Young alligators especially may eat small meals every day or every few days. Older ones will eat when they get the chance, sometimes small meals every day or sometimes much less if they have recently consumed a large kill.

How Long Can an Alligator Go Without Eating?

Alligators have an impressive ability to fast. They can go as long as a few years without food during extreme food shortages.

Brumation allows them to shut down all but the most vital body systems, giving them the ability to survive without food for long periods of time. They do this yearly during the cold winter months, much like hibernation; but they will also do it during periods of food shortage as necessary.

Because of brumation, alligators can tolerate long periods of starvation, freezing temperatures, and darkness. This may be largely responsible for keeping them alive during the mass extinctions of the Cretaceous Period, which was when dinosaurs and many other prehistoric animals died off.

Alligators remain awake during these times of brumation, but their heart rate becomes so low it reduces their oxygen intake, which almost entirely eliminates energy waste and allows these animals to become dormant.

Do Alligators Eat Humans?

do alligators eat humans

Alligator attacks on humans are rare, but not completely unheard of. There may be times when an alligator is near starving or can’t find its normal food sources when it may kill and eat a human.

Humans are not natural prey of alligators, but as noted, alligators will eat nearly anything if they have the opportunity and are desperate enough.

That said, alligators have a natural fear of humans, and they become tired quickly, so they may give up the hunt if the human fights back. They can attack quickly and without warning though, so even if you manage to avoid being killed, you will probably sustain serious injuries in the event of an alligator attack.

Again, though, alligators prefer not to attack humans most of the time, so you should be safe as long as you keep your distance and don’t make any sudden movements.


Alligators are apex predators who will eat just about anything they can sink their teeth into. They are opportunistic carnivores, but they will also eat some plant foods like oranges and wild grapes to supplement their meat-heavy diet.

Alligators tend to eat a lot, but they don’t have to eat everyday. In fact, they can go for as long as two to three years without food, and they regularly enter a hibernation-like state known as brumation each winter.

What Alligators Eat

What do alligators eat?

Alligators are mostly opportunistic predators. They eat whatever is the easiest prey, based on size and availability. Their diet consists primarily of fish, birds, turtles, snakes, frogs, mammals and crème brûlée (we may have made that last one up).

Hatchlings will typically feed on on smaller prey such as crabs, minnows, snails, and worms. As they grow, alligators gradually move on to small fish, then larger prey. Adult alligators may eat mammals such as raccoon or nutria (large aquatic rodents). To a large gator, any animal living in the water or coming to drink from the bank is potentially dinner. This can even include deer or wild boars.

A Mean Bite

Once an alligator catches its prey, the chances of escape are slim. The biting force of the alligator is enormous, packing enough power to smash a turtle’s shell or a moderately sized mammal bone. The bite force of a 12-foot, 450-pound alligator was measured to be 2,209 pounds!


Humans are not an alligator’s natural prey. In fact, alligators are inclined to be afraid of humans. However, feeding alligators causes them to lose their natural fear of humans. When gators associate people with food, they may start attacking people (especially smaller people). For this reason, the feeding of wild alligators in Florida is illegal. According to statute 372.667, it is a misdemeanor to feed alligators or crocodiles. You will usually see signs posted near any bodies of fresh water reminding people not to feed the alligators. Doing so is punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

The best way to appreciate and respect Florida’s wildlife is to enjoy the view. Let wild animals find their food naturally.

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