Are Alligators Carnivores?

The American alligator is one of the animals representing Florida. The alligator has been the Sunshine State’s unofficial symbol. It’s said to symbolize Florida’s swamps and untamed wilderness. The state’s legislature made the designation formal in 1987. They named the alligator their official reptile.

Millions of people find the alligator fascinating and incredible, who can blame them? The gator’s features remind people of dinosaurs. The reptile is also known for its strength, speed, and powerful bite. People are also curious about what these creatures eat. Are alligators carnivores or omnivores? You can find out by getting a proper look at one. You can do this by exploring the swamps with Swamp Fever Airboat Adventures. This article will also answer some questions about the alligator’s eating habits.

What is an Alligator?

Let’s first clear the air of what an alligator is. This creature is a large, lizard-like reptile. The name comes from the Spanish word “el Lagarto,” which means lizard. The animal belongs to the family Alligatoridae and genus Crocodylia. There are two alligator species in the world. They are the American and Chinese gators.

The alligator has four short legs and a very long tail which it uses for swimming and defense. The animal has a rough, scaly hide. Gators have good night vision and are great hunters. They can block water from entering their throat and they use tools to lure prey. This helps them kill and consume their prey underwater.

What Do Alligators Eat?

Alligators are carnivores. They can make a meal out of any type of prey. They’re also not picky about what they eat. Gators can eat fish and mollusks. They also dine on birds, small mammals, and their fellow reptiles. There are even reports of alligators eating other gators.

Alligator diets change with time. While they’re juveniles, alligators will eat a lot of insects, amphibians, and invertebrates. They will also gobble up small fish. But adult alligators become opportunistic with their feeding. They will prey on any aquatic creature or animal that comes near water. As mentioned, they’ll eat fish and birds. They’ll also prey on snakes and turtles. They’re very effective and efficient in breaking open turtle eggs. Experts say this is due to their elongated snouts. Their jaws are also so powerful they can kill animals twice their size.

How Do Gators Find Prey?

It will come as a surprise but alligators are very sensitive to touch. Their sharp and rugged scales have integumentary sensory organs. These can detect vibrations in the water caused by moving prey. The alligator’s sensors are more sensitive than our fingertips.

One misconception about gators is that they can hunt by smell. They cannot. They rely on their touch-sensitive receptors.

How Do They Hunt?

Alligators often hunt at night. They prefer to look for prey in tropical rivers and lush, vegetated swamps. They’re often described as ambush hunters. Their strategy is to wait for their prey to come near the water. They then spring the trap and catch their prey. Their sudden movement is surprising and helps them hunt.

Once they catch their prey, they’ll drag it underwater. They proceed to drown the animal before devouring it. They do this by performing a “death roll.” This is a method used by alligators and crocodiles. It’s what experts call the spinning and biting action they do when subduing prey.

You can find a lot of videos of alligators pulling down large birds or animals in the water. Their teeth are razor sharp and they have no problems holding on to their prey. Their physiology has evolved and they developed a type of sac in their throats. This is the glottis. It allows them to capture their prey while they’re submerged in water. Gators will shake their prey until it breaks apart into manageable pieces. The death roll tears off chunks of meat that they then swallow. Alligators also have the ability to swallow whole animals.

Do Alligators Prey on Humans?

Humans are not part of an alligator’s diet. It’s also a rare occurrence for a gator to attack a human. Some experts will even argue that it’s the other way around, and more humans hunt gators. But alligator attacks do happen. When they do, it’s typically because the alligator has been provoked or feels threatened.

A large number of these alligator attacks happened in Florida. It’s not surprising as there are millions of them in the Sunshine State. These attacks happen when the gator is hunting for food or protecting their young. Alligators are near invisible when they’re underwater. Because of this, some people don’t even know they’re near. The gator can mistake them for food.

Alligators don’t attack on land though. They prefer to hide underwater and ambush their prey. They can put on a lot of speed when hunting. They can swim as fast as 20 mph in water. But a gator can chase you on land as well. They’re capable of short bursts of speed, so don’t underestimate their speed and power. They can reach top speeds of 35 mph. They can only run short distances though.

Meet Florida’s Enduring Symbol

Want to see Florida’s official reptile? Visit Swamp Fever Airboat Adventures for a closer look. The company is one of the top airboat tour operators in the Sunshine State. We’ll show you a fun and memorable time as we explore Lake Panasoffkee together. You’ll learn more about Florida’s wildlife, including its famous alligators. You’ll enjoy a safe and comfortable experience in our airboat. We also have our esteemed Captain Ron at the helm. Book a one-hour tour here or call us at 352-643-0708.

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