What Alligators Eat: Are We Part of Their Diet?

There are many strong animals in the world. The elephant, the komodo dragon, and the bear often come to mind. But did you know that when it comes to having the strongest bite, the crocodile wins hands down?

The alligator is no slouch either. A gator can create around 2,125 pounds of PSI. Their bite force even trumps the mighty lion. The king of the jungle can put an impressive thousand pounds of force in one bite.

It makes you wonder what alligators eat to generate that much force. After all, there must be a reason why the gator has such strong jaws. There’s a lot of interest in what this reptile’s diet consists of. For many, the important question is – are we included in this diet? Let’s uncover the truth together.

Getting to Know the Florida Alligator

Did you know that there are around 1.3 million alligators in Florida? The number is enough to spin your head. What’s even more amazing is that the American alligator was almost wiped out a few decades ago. But the Sunshine State turned the tide around. They did this through a good conservation program.

It’s not surprising that the Alligator is Florida’s official reptile. The word alligator comes from the Spanish word “el Lagarto.” It means lizard. It does look a bit like a lizard. Except for its size and the massive row of sharp teeth. The alligator is part of the genus Crocodylia. The crocodile also belongs to this genus. But they are two different species. That means there won’t be any alligator-crocodile happening soon.

There is no denying alligators and crocodiles share some familiar features. Both have strong elongated bodies. They look like they’re wearing armor. It’s because their skin is covered with scutes or osteoderms. These are the bone-like plates covering their skin. Alligators have short legs. The gator’s front legs have five toes. Its hind legs have four. Their skin also has a darker hue. Gators also have a wide, round snout with upward-facing nostrils. The position of the nostrils allows the gator to breathe even if the rest of its body is underwater.

What’s for Dinner?

Here’s a gator fact to chew on. The American alligator will have about 74 to 80 teeth at any one time. Regular wear and tear will damage their pearly whites. But for every tooth that’s worn down, another replaces it. Alligators can end up going through 3,000 teeth in their lifetime.

These teeth are often put to good use. Gators are carnivores. But there are various factors that affect their diet. Their age, size, and where they’re living impact what they eat. Gators often dine on the following:

  • Insects and Creatures: Baby alligators are fond of eating insects, snails, and worms. These animals are small so they’re easy to chew and swallow. There’s also a lot of it in the swamps of Florida.
  • Birds: These are a staple in an adolescent gator’s diet. They will eat any type of bird, although they would target the fledglings. Adult alligators are also known to eat birds as well. Of course, gators are opportunistic hunters. They eat whatever they can find.
  • Fish: This is a staple in an alligator’s diet. It’s not surprising since they live near water. They’re also not particular about the size and type of fish.
  • Mammals: Alligators also prey on all types of mammals. They dine on animals as small as muskrats and raccoons. But they will also eat larger creatures like panthers and bears. Your pet dog or cat isn’t off the menu either. It’s why you shouldn’t leave your pets wandering around if you’re in Florida.
  • Other Alligators: It’s rare but cannibalism among gators happens. This isn’t one adult gator going after another though. It’s the younger and small gators that are at risk. But this only happens if food is scarce on the ground.
  • Fruits: Alligators might love their protein but they’re also known to eat fruits. Wild grapes and oranges are a favorite. They even help with the propagation of fruit trees. Gators eat fruits whole. The seeds are then expelled along with their droppings as they traverse the marshes.

Are Humans on the Menu?

Alligators have become known for attacking humans. The attacks are not as common as some would like to believe though. But you can’t rule out the possibility that an alligator will eat a human. The caveat is it happens only when it’s starving and can’t find any of its usual food sources.

At the end of the day, alligators are more afraid of humans than we are of them. Gators also get tired fast. They’re not inclined to chase after a person. They’ll also give up if their human prey fights back. The trick is not to push your luck. It’s best to keep your distance from an alligator. Gators are also more active at night. It’s why tourists are always discouraged from taking a night swim in Florida.

Do you want to see this creature up close? Your best bet is to go on any of the alligator tours offered in Florida.

Explore the Beauty of the Florida State

There are many layers to the Sunshine State. You can discover them with the help of Swamp Fever Airboat Adventures. We’re one of the top airboat operators in Orlando. Our alligator tours are well known among the locals. Join us for an airboat ride and we’ll show you a different side of Florida. Explore its marshes and marvel at its wildlife. We guarantee fun and safety with our captain on board. You can book an hour’s tour here. You can also call us at 352-643-0708.