A bystander experienced quite an unusual sight when a large alligator began chasing a little gator around a zoo enclosure.
At the beginning of the clip, the large alligator is seen stalking the smaller reptile before beginning the chase. However, the little gator is quicker and manages to escape numerous times. At the end of the video, the small reptile ends up walking away unscathed. The person who recorded the interaction proclaimed in the comment section, “They were just playing!”
Although it’s not always recorded, it seems that larger alligators don’t mind eating a smaller version of their own. In August 2022, a female paddle boarder in Florida saw a massive gator enjoying a smaller one as a snack. The boarder, Tammy Shaw, said she was paddling on Silver Springs in Marion County when she saw the 11-foot gator enjoying his meal.
“It seemed like he was just kind of showing it off,” she recalled. “I took another video where he kinda took it out of the water, and he kind of like smiled at me. I know they don’t smile, but that’s what it looked like – it was like looking right at me with it in his mouth, just very proud.”
Shaw further explained that she has seen alligators in the same area before but never witnessed this “cannibalistic” behavior. However, the Florida Fish and Wildlife describe gators as opportunistic feeders. Juveniles tend to eat primarily insects, amphibians, small fish, and other invertebrates. Adult gators eat rough fish, snakes, turtles, small mammals, and birds. On occasion though, a gator will have no problem eating another gator.
Alligators Are Opportunistic & Will Eat Whatever They Can Find
Christopher Brochu, a University of Iowa professor who studies crocodilians, stated that while he hasn’t seen the act in person, it’s not unheard of for alligators to each other gators.
“Gators are very opportunistic and will eat whatever they can find; anything that can fit down their throat is food,” Brochu explained. He also noted that alligators don’t mind eating live or dead gators either.
It was also noted that alligators often chow down on each other due to a variety of reasons. This includes territorial or survival reasons. Animal Club explained, “Alligators are infamously vicious apex predators that belong to a select group of animals that partake in cannibalism. This describes the act of an animal eating a member of the same species. It may seem pointless and cruel, but it has many survival benefits.”
It was also noted that adult alligators don’t just each other to prevent food shortages. The large reptiles usually try to take each other out for mating reasons. However, female gators have no problem eating their young if she is without food.