Alligators are apex predators in their habitat. Their food chain position is among the highest, with most freshwater creatures serving as prey.
However, that doesn’t mean the role does not reverse occasionally. There are several predators that eat alligators. Some are opportunistic feeders, while others are bigger predators that wait for the right time to pounce.
This guide will highlight the top 12 predators that kill and eat alligators.
Do Alligators Have Predators?
There are no natural alligator natural predators. The crocodilian controls its habitat. However, they do have predators that attack them at earlier stages of their lives.
While most adult alligators have very little things to fear, growing juveniles can become prey to several animals. These predators kill and eat alligators, with some achieving notable notoriety for being alligator killers. These alligator killers will be discussed in the next section.
Top 12 Alligator Predators
While Hogs are often prey to alligators, there are times when wild hogs do win the consistent combat for survival by targeting alligators before they are hatched. Wild hogs feast on alligators’ eggs whenever they are within reach. Studies have shown that wild hogs could target a single alligator nest and eat as many as 25 to 50 eggs over time.
11. Snapping Turtles
Snapping turtles eat young alligators whenever they have the advantage of striking without being noticed. Being opportunistic feeders, snapping turtles do not actively hunt alligators. However, they often end up victorious when face to face with a very young alligator.
A common American alligator predator is the Otter. These small but extraordinarily strong smart animals usually target alligator eggs. Also, they will never pass off an easy chance to attack, kill and eat small alligators.
Bears are reluctant American alligator predators. They do not primarily concern themselves with alligators and will only try to get alligator eggs when they can. However, maturing alligators often attack bears, forcing a retaliation that often sees the bears coming on top and killing the alligators.
8. Wading Bird
Wading birds are notorious baby alligator eaters. These birds often nest above alligators to gain protection from other flying predators. They also use the opportunity to feast on small alligators.
The relationship between waddling birds and alligators is symbiotic as the former also loses its eggs to waiting for alligators at the bottom. Storks, ibises, egrets, spoonbills, and herons are common wading birds that feed on alligators.
There are several fish that eat alligators. These fish include sharks, goliath tigerfish, and freshwater bass. They mostly sneak up on very young to mature alligators and attack fatally. They are occasional alligator predators.
6. Birds of Prey
Birds of Prey are major predators of alligators in the US, China, and Africa. These birds are fierce hunters, comprising hawks, falcons, eagles, and owls. They majorly hunt and eat juvenile alligators in both lands and rivers. Their great sight gives them a vast edge from a distance.
5. Big Cats
The majority of the big cats do not have a problem feasting on alligators’ flesh and will go for them when their primary choice of food is unavailable. Tigers, Lions, Jaguars, and Cougar are big cats that take on alligators and kill them for food.
Alligators actively hunt snakes and are even known to kill large breeds like pythons. Similarly, pythons do not mind returning the favor and actively hunt and kill juvenile alligators.
Alligators, like most crocodilians, are cannibals, so it is not strange for bigger alligators to feast on smaller ones. Some alligators enjoy cannibalism so much they actively hunt their own as primary food. Adult alligators also attack, kill and eat themselves occasionally.
If you are wondering what animal eats alligators the most, then Raccoons have a right to fight for the top spot. Raccoons eat both alligators’ unhatched eggs and growing juveniles. They do it so frequently that they are considered active hunters of alligators.
The biggest danger facing mature alligators is the human race. Humans are active and dangerous alligator predators due to the high demand for alligators’ flesh for luxury foods. We have, at one point, been responsible for the near extinction of alligators, which forced most governments to clamp down on large-scale hunting.
Humans top the list for what kills alligators for sport. Certain cultures kill and hunt them for cultural pride, circus shows, and other non-food purposes. We remain the biggest alligator predator as we hunt them, irrespective of their size, and regardless of how dangerous they can be to Humans.
Predators of Alligators by Category
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Alligators’ predators target them at different stages of their lives. Here are the different stages at which alligators become prey.
Eggs: Alligators become prey even before they see the light of day. While still eggs, unhatched alligators could drown or get crushed by the hatching mother. However, their biggest risks are hovering predators like Racoons, Otters, Hogs, and bears.
Juveniles: Juveniles Alligators’ major risks are mostly air and water predators. Raccoons, Wadding birds, Fish, Birds of Prey, and Otters are the major predators of younger alligators. Adult alligators also prey on juvenile alligators.
Adults: There are no natural predators of adult alligators. However, they suffer mortality from territorial fights, cannibalism, intraspecific fighting, and human hunting.
Legal Status of Hunting Alligators
Alligators have formerly been considered an endangered specie. They were declared endangered by the Endangered Species Act in 1967 following heavy hunting by humans. This status has long changed, with millions of alligators spread all over every continent except Antarctica.
Due to the Safe specie categorization of alligators, almost every government allows human hunting. However, hunters must have the proper licenses and permits before they legally hunt alligators.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Alligators Have Any Predators?
Alligators have more than 10 different predators that attack them with relative frequency. Major alligator predators include Otters, Raccoons, Humans, alligators, Bears, Fish, and some big cats (occasionally).
What Eats Alligators?
Most big Carnivores Wildlife eats alligators when in dire need. For many bigger animals, alligators are not the choicest meal. However, few do find their flesh appealing. Bears, Raccoons, Fish, wading birds, and otters are major animals that eat alligators.
Do Alligators Eat Alligators?
Adult Alligators eat younger alligators for food quite frequently. Adult alligators occasionally turn on themselves when there are other scarce food sources. They could also be territorial fights, leading to death and one of the aggressors. Naturally, the dead alligators are feasted on.
Why Do Alligators Eat Each Other?
Alligators are both carnivores and cannibals. However, their primary reason for eating themselves is not because of direct hunger. Alligators will kill and eat each other to save scarce food sources, keep territory and gain mating rights.
Do Crocodiles Eat Alligators?
Crocodiles can kill alligators and even eat them if there is a confrontation. This confrontation is often unlikely as both animals’ lives barely share the same boundary. The only recorded habitat where crocodiles and alligators coexist is The Florida Everglades.
Are Alligators Apex Predators?
Adult alligators are apex predators in freshwater with no natural predators to faze them. However, smaller alligators and unhatched eggs can be hunted and destroyed by bigger predators. This hunt could happen on both land and water.
Do Otters Eat Alligators?
Otters’ agility, silkiness, and speed give them the edge over younger alligators. Otters kill alligators they can overpower, making juvenile alligators a major target. Otters also eat alligator eggs as well.
Do Jaguars Eat Alligators?
Yes. Jaguars eat alligators when they need to. Jaguars do not necessarily enjoy hunting alligators but will kill them and even eat them as a secondary food option when in dire need.
Do Lions Eat Alligators?
Lions eat alligators. They do not love their flesh as much as they enjoy eating Zebras and other common food sources. However, a hungry lion big enough will never pass up a free chance to sneak on an alligator and kill it.
Do Hippos Eat Alligators?
Hippos do not eat alligators. That doesn’t mean they won’t kill them, however. Like crocodiles, hippos do not consider alligators friends and will fight them even to death when they are perceived as threats.
Do Cougars Eat Alligators?
Yes, Cougar eats alligators. Extremely smart, agile, and stealthy, cougars are known to creep on smaller alligators, deal a killing blow and eat them. Cougars occasionally tend to feast on crocodilians. Hence, alligators are not their only targets.
Do Tigers Eat Crocodiles and Alligators?
Tigers eat all kinds of wildlife flesh, including alligators and crocodiles. Due to great swimming ability, an adult tiger will take on an alligator even in its habitat and kill it. However, most tigers prefer to get the alligator and crocodile while taking in the sun on a river bank.
Do Sharks Eat Alligators?
Yes. Sharks attack and eat alligators, but research shows that alligators trigger sharks to act in retaliation. According to NY Daily News, alligators have been attacking sharks, and in response, sharks are also delivering deathly ambushes and blows. It is really about size. A bigger shark will take on a smaller alligator and vice versa.
Can a Hippo Kill a Crocodile?
A Hippo can kill a maturing crocodile by itself. The rate of fully grown hippos killing a crocodile is quite low as it is likely to escape before it is dealt a deadly blow.
Where & How to See Alligators in Your State?
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Other Articles to Learn More About Alligators
- American Alligator: Characteristics, Diet, Facts & More [Fact Sheet]
- Alligators – 30 Amazing Facts, Info & Pictures
- Are Alligators Dangerous to Humans? What You Need to Know
- What Do Alligators Eat? All About Their Diet
- Are Alligators Friendly to Themselves or ever to Humans?
- How Fast Can an Alligator Run? Can a Human Outrun an Alligator?
- How Long Do Alligators Live? Understanding the Alligator Lifespan
- Are Alligators Dinosaurs?