One huge gator in Lakeland, Florida surprised onlookers at a golf course when it decided to become a cannibal. The 20-foot gator was seen holding a limp smaller gator in its mouth earlier this month. For comparison, the gator being eaten was only around six feet long.
Luckily, the whole thing was caught on video. In the video, we can see the gator carrying the smaller one in its mouth as it walks across the golf course. As people watch the gator (probably with a mixture of horror and curiosity), one of them shouts at the monster reptile. “Oh my god, put that gator down!” they yell.
As you might have guessed, the big gator doesn’t pay any attention to that request. He keeps a firm grip on his prey as he walks away. You can watch a clip of the gator here. It’s filmed from a little ways away, but you can still make out the size difference between the two gators.
A Cannibal Gator Isn’t All That Rare
A cannibal gator isn’t something we see every day, but apparently, they’re not all that rare. According to experts, cannibalism among the species is fairly common. There have been other instances where gators eating each other have been seen. In fact, a giant gator in SC was recorded eating a six-foot gator sometime last year.
“Large alligators are known to eat smaller alligators,” said Coleman M. Sheehy III of the Division of Herpetology at the Florida Museum of Natural History. “However, the occurrence of this can vary quite a bit, partly due to what other food options are available and partly due to whether large gators have access to smaller gators.”
That poor gator in Lakeland, FL must not have gotten the memo: stay away from the bigger reptiles.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) found that up to 15% of smaller or younger gators might get eaten by bigger or older gators. They found this out by doing a study. Part of that study was looking at the stomach contents of alligators. According to F&S, one gator in that study had eaten 14 other smaller, younger gators. Depending on the area, this can be pretty common for smaller versions of the reptile. This isn’t common everywhere, though.
“Smaller alligators generally avoid areas where large alligators live. This may be because their ecological needs are different—food and habitat—but also so they don’t get eaten by the larger gators.”
Biologists often say that gators are “opportunistic feeders.” Basically, they’ll eat whatever they come across. For example, one gator in FL even tried to make lunch out of a little remote-controlled boat. Unlike the smaller gator above, the toy boat managed to escape the monster’s jaws.