What Do Alligators Eat? Alligators are classified under the order Crocodylia. They are giant reptiles notable by their rounded snouts and black color.
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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.
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?
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?
- 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?
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.
When Do Alligators Eat?
Alligators are nocturnal hunters and feeders. They prefer to hunt and feed on prey at night time.
How Often Do 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.
Cite This Page
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- “American Crocodile and Alligator | Defenders of Wildlife”. Accessed June 30, 2019. https://defenders.org/american-alligator/basic-facts.
- “ADW: Alligator sinensis: INFORMATION”. Accessed June 30, 2019. https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Alligator_sinensis/.
- “Chinese Alligator | Alligator sinensis”. Accessed June 30, 2019. http://www.edgeofexistence.org/species/chinese-alligator/.
- “Watch: Alligators' Hunting Secrets Revealed by Crittercams”. Accessed June 30, 2019. https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/01/140115-alligator-crittercam-hunting-animals-behavior-science/.
- “Alligators and Crocodiles Use Tools to Hunt, in a First”. Accessed June 30, 2019. https://www.livescience.com/41898-alligators-crocodiles-use-tools.html.
- “When Do Alligators Feed?”. Accessed June 30, 2019. https://www.evergladesholidaypark.com/when-do-alligators-feed/.
- “Watch: These N.C. alligators are frozen in swamp with noses above ice”. Accessed June 30, 2019. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/01/25/alligators-frozen-swamp-noses-above-ice/2677970002/.