When Do Alligators Eat, Should Tourists Be Scared?

The once endangered population of American alligators in Florida are now thriving again, with 1.3million gators roaming casually all over the state. Alligators are known to be one of the most patient predators in the wild. They can wait and stalk for hours before attacking their prey. But have you ever wondered what alligators eat?

When the weather starts to warm up and temperatures are rising, alligators become more visible and can be seen basking under the sun to regulate their body temperature. The warm weather signals the start of mating and nesting season. So aside from the usual hunting during the dusk and dawn, alligators are more active during this time of the year, even their metabolism.

It is during this time that you should keep your distance and be extra cautious. Experts say that alligators start courtship around April and mating happens around May to June.

The Opportunistic Hunter

American alligators are apex predators, meaning they don’t have natural predators. They are opportunistic in the sense that they are not picky eaters and eat whatever they can get on. They do not like to exert much effort hunting for food and prefer chowing on animals that they can easily take on. They settle for prey that are easier to get, like bugs, fish, crabs, turtles and other animals, even tadpoles.

They occasionally feast on bigger prey like rodents, raccoons, dogs, or whoever gets too close to their habitat. They usually avoid preying on animals that they cannot eat in one gulp because their jaws are not made for chewing. When they chance upon a large prey, they save it for later. What they do is pin the food first under logs or rocks and wait for them to rot or soften up before eating them.

Alligators are Efficient Predators 

They hunt their prey brutally and ruthlessly. Below are some of the reasons why alligators are one of the most efficient predators.

Alligators are Best in Waiting Game

They only need to eat once a week if they have a big meal. They are good at lying down, waiting for the potential food to come near, and then they attack super-duper quickly.

Alligators are Good at Hiding

They are intelligent enough not to exert too much effort in hunting their prey. Alligators are good at disguising, their skin effortlessly blending into the brackish water. It is almost always too late for preys to realize that they are the gators’ next meal.

Alligators are Analytical

Gators have learned to use things around them to lure their prey. They have analyzed that they can attract birds looking for materials to make their nests. How? They balance sticks or twigs on their snouts and make it look like the perfect stick for the bird’s nest, only to be attacked and be the gator’s next meal.

Alligators are Fast to Attack

Did you know that alligators can swim as fast as 20 miles/ hour? They can also run as fast as 11 miles/ hour and can even jump high from the water, ambushing and attacking their prey by surprise.

Alligators Drown Their Preys

Bigger preys, those that they can’t eat in one gulp, are the ones they drown. They use the “death roll” to keep their bigger preys submerged under water until it drowns. They wait for the animal to stop struggling before feasting on it.

Alligators Know Teamwork

They can work alone or as a team to catch bigger prey. They also share the food afterwards, confirming that alligators can well communicate and coordinate with each other.

The Strength of an American Alligator’s Bite

The alligators’ scary jaws are built for chomping and holding on to their prey. But how strong do you think their bites are? An alligator’s jaw is strong enough to break your bones with just a single bite. They are also known to hold on to their bite for as long as 20 minutes. It can even crash a turtle’s shell with a bite force of about 2,200 PSI.

American Alligator Encounter in the Wild

Since American gators are very common in Florida, you have to always be mindful of your surroundings, whether you are a local or a tourist. Below are things you must consider to help you avoid any mishaps with this predator, and tips on what to do in case you come face to face with this Jurassic lizard.

Never Feed Them

Alligators have a natural fear of humans. But when you start giving them food, they will lose this natural fear, and they will associate humans with food. You do not want any form of interaction with a gator. If you are feeling adventurous and want some action with them, consider visiting alligators in captivity to ensure you are safe from any possible attack. Or join swamp adventures where tour guides are highly trained for such types of activities.

Follow Safety Regulations

It is safest to assume that there is at least an alligator or two in all of Florida’s rivers and lakes, so always be cautious and observant when around these areas. Only swim in designated places and take warning signs seriously.

Keep a Safe Distance from the Water

When strolling alone, with someone, or with your pet, remember to keep a safe distance from the shore. Avoid places with patches of grasses where they can hide and avoid strolling from dusk until dawn when they are known to be active.

Take Note of Alligator Mating Season

Alligators are most active and aggressive during this time. Mating season or not, it’s scary to chance upon an alligator in the wild. Just imagine how much worse it is to chance upon an alligator’s nest with a nesting gator mom.

Report Any Alligator Sightings in the Community

Do not take matters into your own hands by trying to trap them by yourself. Report the sighting right away so that experts can properly handle them, especially gators who don’t seem to be scared of humans or those that are over 5 feet long.

Put Up a Fight

Coming face to face with a gator is a life-or-death situation. The best chance of survival you have is to put up your best fight. Hold on to them as hard as you can, to avoid falling victim to the gator’s “death roll” where they will try to drag and drown you in the water to stop your struggle. You can also try and poke their eyes, the only vulnerable spot they have.

Have a Close Encounter With American Alligators With Swamp Fever Airboat Adventures 

It is no doubt that alligators are born to be predators but they will remain harmless if not threatened or attacked. So instead of fearing them, learn more about them with us. Call us at +1 352 643 0708.