Video Shows Giant Alligator Eating Another Alligator, as Woman Watches
The gruesome incident was caught on camera.
A paddleboarder got the shock of her life when she witnessed an alligator eating another alligator in Marion County, Florida. Tammy Shaw was enjoying some fresh air on her inflatable paddleboard when she came across the hungry predator and captured footage of the incident. Here's what happened—and how people reacted.
Shaw was paddling through a spring when she saw the two alligators—one of which had the other in its mouth, chomping away. "I was fascinated just by the sheer size of the gator and the one he was eating," Shaw said. "I wasn't too afraid because he was obviously busy but when he went under the water, I was a bit concerned where he was gonna pop up." Considering that alligators do sometimes attack humans, that's a fairly legitimate point!
Shaw posted the video in a Facebook group called Alligators of Florida, where concerns were raised about the dangers of paddleboarding in gator-infested waters. "I have no problem believing a 'gator might eat a smaller 'gator, but, paddleboarding?!? In 'gator infested Florida waters?" one commenter said. "That's a perfect example of why I don't paddleboard," another said. "You never know what you're gonna see in Florida. I'm a native 4th generation 69 yrs. I have a healthy respect for those gators," said a third.
While not exactly pleasant to witness, alligators eating each other is not unusual, especially during mating season which runs from March into mid-June. "It's typical alligator behavior," Florida Fish & Wildlife officer Gary Morse told Fox 13 in Tampa. "They are cannibalistic at times. What alligators will typically do is they'll take that animal and stuff it some place for a week or two until it gets nice and soft and they can tear it apart."
Alligators are opportunists, which means they will eat whatever is easiest. This includes birds, fish, turtles, snakes, frogs, and even fruit. While alligators have been known to attack people, it's a rare occurrence. "With how many people there are and how many alligators there are, it's really surprising it doesn't happen more often," Frank Mazzotti, professor of wildlife ecology and member of the "Croc Docs" at the University of Florida, told USA Today.
Alligators are not unique for their cannibalism. Chimpanzees, spiders, sharks, great apes, and hippos are all known for occasionally snacking on each other. "Many rodent mothers may eat some of their young if they're sick, dead, or too numerous to feed," say Jared Piazza, lecturer in social psychology, Lancaster University and Neil McLatchie, lecturer in psychology, Lancaster University. "Bears and lions kill and eat the offspring of adult females to make them more receptive to mating. Chimpanzees sometimes cannibalize unlucky rivals, usually infants, seemingly for the mere opportunity of some extra protein."