It’s a “gator eat gator” world, according to videos released by Florida residents. When most of us think of alligators, they picture man-eating reptiles you’re best off trying to avoid. However, one meal the reptilian predators are now known to chow down on is each other.
Alligators attacks on other gators have apparently been happening for a long time, since researchers discovered in a study in 2011 that up to 7 percent of young alligators are eaten by their elders. This appears to mean that the reptiles might not really want to, but they will out of necessity. They discovered this by placing trackers on alligators in Northern Florida’s Orange Lake. In time, many trackers were discovered in the bellies of other gators.
When humans resort to cannibalism, it’s considered a crime because it’s murder. Also despite the idea brought to light by Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs and some of the villains from The Walking Dead, eating other humans is considered a morally horrible decision. It just feels wrong to us.
The reptiles caught on camera by Alex Figueroa one morning helped prove the point. When taking a morning stroll at the Circle B Bar Reserve, Alex witnessed a gator eating a gator and decided to film it. Considering how predatory alligators are known to be, he must have been brave to even get that close.
As Figueroa filmed, the larger gator (approximately 11 feet long) shook its scaly food from side to side. The reptiles do this to tenderize their meal and break bones, reducing physical resistance and making the victim easier to chew. Considering that the gators involved were on reserved land, they probably didn’t have many options, so Figueroa was lucky to catch them in the act.
Not all of the reptiles are equally aggressive, though, as the “gator eating gator” video shows. The study in 2011 revealed one of the most fearsome among the crowd, which died of natural causes, had 14 trackers in its stomach, while most only had one. This could also mean that alligators can be just as psychotic as we can, attacking their young more often. When it was revealed that 91 percent of reptilian victims are under 3-years-old, it also showed that after a certain age, the chances of growing up to eat others grew much higher. Gators eating gators usually target the ones which can’t fight back so easily.
CAUGHT ON CAMERA: Gator eats another gator in Florida. WATCH: https://t.co/uBeHBO6pmJ pic.twitter.com/kWz0vjtX8S
— 13News Now (@13NewsNow) April 14, 2016
This makes alligators basically like bullies in the animal kingdom. Of course, some alligators will prey on people who don’t respect them, as law enforcement officials revealed in Texas when a man ignored signs and jumped in the water at a Marina. He was then attacked by an alligator in front of his friend, proving that the signs are there for a reason.
In another case, a boy went missing and another was injured after a crocodile in Australia invaded a birthday party. Sometimes the victim is innocent and just unlucky, as both boys had been swimming in a water hole when the reptile attacked the 15-year-old. The older boy had fought back, and the crocodile ended up grabbing the 12-year-old and swimming off with him. His body was found later.
When the meal options are limited, gators eat gators, but when the options are left to nature, they might get us instead. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says that gators eat gators out of necessity, especially when kept away from other animals and humans.
Alex Figueroa was only one of many who managed to catch the phenomenon on video, as Octavia Heart also managed to catch the attack, above. It happens a lot, but it’s rarely caught on video.
[Feature image via Sam Greenwood / Getty Images]