The complete guide to all predators that eat an alligator or crocodile
Along with cockroaches, alligators and crocodiles are one of the few animals to have not changed much over the years.
Scientists believe that their bodies have reached a state of equilibrium where further evolution is not required for survival.
Despite this, both alligators and crocodiles have many predators they need to be wary of. From humans hunting for the next handbag to sharks looking for a long meal – swimming in the water isn’t all fun.
- Unlike other animals that have continuously evolved over time – alligators have remained virtually the same for over 8 million years. Even 30 million years ago, the alligator ancestors looked the same as the ones we see today. Their bodies are so well adapted to their lifestyle that there hasn’t been much evolutionary need to change.
- Alligators thrive exclusively in freshwater. Saltwater animals have special glands to filter our salt, which alligators don’t.
- They are only found in the United States (North Carolina to Florida) and China (Yangtze River).
- While most reptiles do not raise their young and often abandon the eggs, alligator hatchlings grow up with their mom for up to 2 years.
- By 1967, the alligator population almost went extinct. They started to replenish after their status was changed to “Endangered.” Currently, their conservation status is that of “Least Concern.” The American crocodile, on the other hand, is currently in the “Vulnerable.” status.
What Animals Eat Alligators?
While alligators are apex predators and are important in the ecosystem to keep levels of fish, turtles, and snakes down – they also have some larger predators of their own.
Tigers Hunt Alligators
Tigers and alligators coexist in similar areas. Due to their swimming proficiency and stealth, they are able to prey on gullible alligators. Bengal tigers are even known to be able to win fights with crocodiles in the Sunderbans, in India, and in Bangladesh.
They don’t generally prefer to eat crocodiles and opt for smaller mammals. However, if no other prey is available, they can bite down and defeat mid-size alligators. Tigers are the most common predator for alligators.
Lions Feed on Alligators
Lions do not prefer being in the water. Hence, alligators are not their preferred choice of food.
However, when lions go for a drink near the water’s edge, aggressive and territorial alligators often attack them.
This may lead to battles, but the lion has the upper hand here due to its strength and agility.
Big cats usually injure animals by a bite at the nape of their neck. Lions vs. alligators make for some vicious fights, and in some cases, the alligator can also get the upper hand.
Pythons Are Alligator Predators
Again, alligators are apex predators in their own right. They often prey on snakes and smaller reptiles. However, a territorial war between pythons and alligators of appropriate sizes is not that uncommon.
Large pythons are capable of crushing alligators by wrapping themselves around the alligator’s body. There have been recorded cases of pythons killing alligators and swallowing them whole. Usually, this is a long process and takes well over 5 hours.
Jaguars Prey on Alligators
Along with tigers – jaguars are one the most common alligator predators. They eat not only alligators but also crocodiles and caimans of sizes comparable to themselves.
Jaguars are extremely fast, can swim well, and have a large, powerful bite. Their bite is the strongest among all felines when compared relative to their size.
With this crushing bite, capable of going through animal skulls and turtle shells – alligators are no match. It is not just about power; jaguars are also temperamentally very strong. They are bold enough to approach alligator-infested waters to pick up brawls with them.
Alligators Cannibalize Alligators
Alligators are infamous for eating their own kind. There are many reasons for this.
Sometimes, it can be due to territorial reasons, while at other times, it could be because other food sources are not available.
Usually, if Adult alligators grow to more than 4 feet in length – they are safe from such brawls. However, smaller alligators and alligator eggs are especially susceptible to being eaten by others of their own kind.
During times of dehydration or when there is no other food source available, alligator mothers can even eat their own eggs.
Smaller Animals Hunt Alligators
When alligators are young, they have even more predators. Baby alligators are only 8 inches long and quite weak.
This means raccoons, birds of prey, otters, and even large, carnivorous freshwater fishes hunt them. Large birds, such as egrets and eagles, and snakes, prey on the juveniles.
Though alligator mothers are fierce and stay with the young, they cannot defend them all from birds. Approximately 24 younglings are born from each batch of eggs in an alligator nest – which is quite a handful to look after.
Hippos Kill Alligators
You might be wondering why hippos are listed as alligator predators – when these giants are actually herbivorous.
Hippos are highly aggressive and territorial animals, despite their gentle giant image.
If threatened or on seeing their young in danger, hippos can kill crocodiles easily. They are much larger in size, have crushing jaw strength, and can easily snap off an alligator’s head.
However, they simply kill alligators and do not consume the meat.
Baby hippos are often seen chewing on the scaly skins of dead crocodiles and alligators. This is because chewing on it helps them in teething.
Anacondas Are Alligator Predators
Similar to pythons, anacondas are non-venomous snakes that can kill large prey by crushing them. The green anaconda is one of the predators of American alligators.
Growing up to 30 feet in size, anacondas can easily overpower smaller alligators and caimans with their sheer size and power.
In fact, anacondas have turned into an invasive species in some areas because they are eating more than what gets replaced in the ecosystem naturally.
Tiger Sharks Eat Crocodiles
Unlike alligators, crocodiles are found in salt water as well. Saltwater crocodiles are among the largest growing crocodiles and the most ferocious.
Despite this, they are often prey for tiger sharks. Others, such as bull sharks, are also known to hunt crocodiles. But tiger sharks remain the top predator – winning fights 9 out of 10 times.
Humans Also Eat Alligators
Lastly, humans are also natural predators of alligators, both for using their meat as food and extracting their skin so that it can be turned into leather products.
In some areas, hunting alligators is prohibited, but in countries like the Philippines, it is allowed and done rampantly.
Singapore also has crocodile and alligator farms where these reptiles are reared for their meat.
Alligator meat has a very low-fat content but is high in protein – making it a healthy meal option. Alligator eggs are also consumed in the Southern United States.
Overall, most big cats, such as panthers, can kill or at least heavily injure alligators in a fight. Humans remain one of the top killers – since we not only kill them for food but for recreation and luxury products as well.
Currently, the loss of their natural habitat due to deforestation, lakes drying up, as well as global warming also poses a serious threat to the alligator population.
What Does An Alligator Eat?
Alligators are nocturnal and carnivorous. They mostly hunt in the water or along the edges of water bodies.
They hunt smaller mammals, birds, ground-dwelling invertebrates, and other amphibians such as frogs. Fish are also a part of their diet.
Alligators used a “death roll” to kill their prey. They snatch a land animal from the water edge by the neck and hold them down in the water until the animal thrashes and drowns.
A special throat adaptation called the glottis allows them to weed out submerged animals from the water.
They can also eat turtles and tortoises that have hard outer shells by using their sharp teeth to pierce through them.
Frequently Asked Questions
What animal can kill an alligator?
Despite their size and strength, there are animals that can kill an alligator.
From big cats such as tigers and jaguars to snakes like anacondas and pythons – there are many with whom alligators can lose a fight.
Humans are also one of their top hunters, both for food as well as for their scaly hides, which is used in making luxury bags and clothes.
Who would win: alligator or crocodile?
Crocodiles would win, as they are much larger than alligators. Saltwater crocodiles are, in fact, the largest of all crocodile species.
They grow up to 20 feet, whereas even the largest alligator can only grow up to a maximum of 12 feet. Alligators in the Yangtze River are only 5 feet long.
What Animal fights alligators?
Hippos are known to fight alligators. However, they don’t have any intention of eating them if they win.
This is because hippos are simply territorial animals and are prone to fighting any threats to themselves or their young.
Apart from this, anacondas and pythons also fight alligators when necessary.
What eats alligators in the food chain?
Despite being apex predators, alligators might become food for other apex predators equal to themselves.
Baby alligators can be food for raccoons, large birds of prey, carnivorous pigs, and snakes.
Adult alligators can be eaten by pythons, tigers, jaguars, and anacondas.
Other Alligator Articles You Might Like To Read
Alligators are fascinating creatures, and it’s interesting to think why they have remained unchanged for millions of years while even such large reptiles as dinosaurs went extinct. There are many interesting things to learn from them, such as:
- Since alligators are not mammals, they cannot produce milk to feed their young. But they can still produce crop milk to feed the young. You can know more about how the crop milk is generated from our article on this.
- Due to their nature of lazing around and stubby legs, you might be under the impression that they cannot run fast. However, alligators are superb swimmers and great runners – you can find more here.
Wild alligators are usually not aggressive, but it is best to remain clear from them – especially if they are larger than 5 feet.
Unlike some reptiles that become aggressive during the mating season, alligators do not show such changes.
However, they are territorial. A female alligator protecting juvenile alligators will be more ready to attack than retreat.
This is natural as they have many large apex predators to deal with. However, they normally do not treat humans as immediate threats.
Thank you for reading!