Alligators may be one of the most feared wild animals, and rightfully so. These ancient reptiles are giant lizards and are at the top of the food pyramid in almost every way. Alligators are not only fearsome predators but they’re also opportunistic feeders which means that they’ll eat just about anything they can get their teeth on.
So, if alligators will really eat anything, does that include other alligators? Do alligators eat each other?
There are numerous recorded cases of alligators eating other alligators. Alligators are opportunistic carnivores and might eat each other for a variety of reasons. Male alligators may eat and attack each other to protect their territories and reduce competition. Of course, some alligators may eat others simply out of hunger.
This article will discuss everything you need to know about alligators eating other alligators. Even though it seems like a gruesome topic it is a reality in nature and you might be surprised to learn that alligators aren’t the only animals who do this.
Do Alligators Eat Each Other?
Yes, alligators do eat each other. Alligators have been documented multiple times eating other alligators. Whether it’s an adult eating another adult, an adult eating a juvenile, or a group of alligators attacking a single alligator, you can find examples all over the Internet.
The video below shows a couple of examples of both alligators and crocodiles attacking and even eating others of their own kind. We’ll warn you that the video is violent so if you’re sensitive to gore feel free to skip it.
Cannibalism is defined as the act of one animal consuming food that is made up of its own species. Through this definition, alligators are definitely cannibals.
So, why is it so common for alligators to each other?
Why Do Alligators Eat Each Other?
There are a few different things that explain the motivation behind cannibalism. In general and in alligators that usually comes down to a few things.
Reason 1: Protecting Territory
One of the biggest motivating factors for cannibalism and alligators is territorialism.
Alligators can be very territorial and for good reason. During mating season males fight other males and can’t really cool exist. To protect their territories male alligators will do things like bellow, or other sounds like roaring, and make other loud noises to warn off other gators.
If these loud noises aren’t warning enough two gators might meet, and while during certain times of the year, this may not be a problem during mating season things get tense.
Male alligators will usually challenge each other, fight each other, eat, and even kill each other. All of these behaviors are in an effort to prove that they’re the best male in the area. Once a male alligator bites another they’ll be happy to walk away with a victory and a snack.
Reason 2: Hunger And Resources
Another maybe more obvious reason for cannibalism is a lack of resources. These resources might be food, water, or shelter. American alligators can often be found in wetland areas. Their native range is pretty small as they’re only found in a small part of North America and have to be near a water source.
Alligators can sleep almost anywhere in their natural habitats whether that means in the water or on the money banks of the river. Even so, when overcrowding occurs, the easiest solution may be to reduce the population. This might lead to one alligator eating another.
In a crowded area where there are many alligators and not enough food it’s natural that it will come down to survival of the fittest. Usually, in a hunger-based scenario, the larger alligators will eat the smaller ones. In this case, two problems are solved at once; the surviving alligator gets a meal and there are fewer mouths to feed.
Reason 3: Eating Offspring
The last reason why alligators eat each other has to do with juveniles. Eating offspring is sadly common in the alligator world. Both strangers and parents might eat the young of this species.
Alligators lay eggs and have pretty obvious nesting sites. Their nests just look like big piles of sticks and mud on the banks of the rivers, they’re not hidden at all. In a pinch, a hungry alligator might cannibalize the eggs of another alligator.
Even after alligators are born they’re still not safe from cannibalism. A mother may eat the weakest of her litter. This provides her with nutrition to support the other healthier babies and also reduces competition for food in the future.
If a group of juvenile alligators is auntie enough to enter a male’s territory they will definitely respond in a threatening manner. This can mean anything from bellowing all the way to attacking and eating the juveniles. According to the Smithsonian Museum, 80% of young alligators fall victim to predators (including other alligators).
Is Cannibalism Common In Other Animals?
Cannibalism is common among other animals besides alligators. Animals like chimpanzees, hippos, and hamsters are also well-known cannibals. Chimpanzees are known to eat the young of other males in their areas.
Although hippos are herbivores they have been recorded eating the corpses of other hippos and Times of extreme need. And mother hamsters often eat their young both in captivity and in the wild when they feel stressed or scared. Some insects even perform cannibalism after the act of mating.
Cannibalism is common in the wild because sometimes the only food source around is another of an animal’s own species. When given the option between death and survival most wild animals are hardwired to choose survival.
What Else Do Alligators Eat?
Do alligators only survive on eating other alligators or do they have other prey?
Alligators are true carnivores. They’re built to hunt and digest just about anything living. We mentioned earlier that alligators are opportunistic feeders and this means that they are not picky with their food, if something is around and they’re hungry, they’ll eat it.
In the wild, alligators can be observed eating things like snakes, turtles, small mammals, and birds. Of course, we can’t forget that they also eat other alligators. Alligators don’t usually eat anything larger than themselves like manatees, because it’s usually not worth the effort.
Don’t let this statement for you though there are definitely accounts of alligators attacking things larger than themselves like humans. So, if you do spot an alligator in the wild make sure to get them plenty of room so you don’t end up on the menu.
In this article we’ve answered the question, do alligators eat each other?
Alligators are natural cannibals just like many other animals in the wild. Even though cannibalism is gruesome and disgusting, it is often necessary to survive. Cannibalism is used to defend territories, free up resources, and weed out excess young. Alligators typically have plenty of food available to them but seem to have no issues consuming other members of their species.
Hopefully, we’ve answered all the questions that you might have surrounding alligator cannibalism!