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The Diet of the Florida Alligator: What Do Alligators Eat?

We've heard your questions using #AskTheExpert about airboat rides, so we're back again and eager to answer them!

When we think of alligators, the first image that often comes to mind is a fierce predator lurking in the swamps. American alligators are iconic reptiles known for their power and stealth, and often make people wonder, "What do alligators eat?" In this blog, we'll dive deep into the fascinating dietary habits of these apex predators and explore their diverse menu.

Baby gator at Wild Florida

What do baby alligators eat?

Baby alligators, also known as hatchlings, have their own dietary preferences. While they may not have the size and power to hunt larger prey, they are strategic feeders and rely on a diet of small, easy-to-catch creatures. These young alligators mostly eat insects, tadpoles and crustaceans. This early diet provides them with essential nutrients to support their rapid growth during their developing years. So, when wondering what is the baby alligator's diet, it's a mix of aquatic creatures that sets them on the path to becoming terrific hunters in the future.

Related blog: From Hatchlings to Giants: How big can a gator get?

Young, adolescent gator sun bathing in the Everglades

What do adolescent alligators eat?

During their adolescent years, alligators continue to master their hunting skills and expand their palate to include a larger range of prey. As “subadults” alligator teeth grow in. These adolescent gators will now be able to include larger fish, amphibians, and crustaceans into their diets. They will also become more capable of capturing birds and small mammals that explore near the water's edge. They like to eat and their diet will primarily consist of insects and small prey to a broader array of water and land creatures, setting the stage for their role as apex predators in their ecosystems. 

Related blog: 5 facts that surprise people the most about alligators in Florida

Adult gator sitting in the Everglades at Wild Florida

What do adult alligators eat? 

After about a year, alligators will grow about two to 12 inches per year, depending on the type of habitat the alligator is living in. Male alligators grow faster and larger than female alligators. As an adult with more than 75 teeth and weighing up to 1,000 pounds, the question of, ‘what do alligators eat?’’ as adults really evolve into ‘what don’t alligators eat?’. Adult alligators are fierce apex predators with a diverse diet. Their main diet will consist of large fish, birds, or even small mammals like raccoons, deer, and even smaller alligators! With their powerful jaws and remarkable hunting skills, adult alligators play a crucial role in maintaining the health and biodiversity of the Florida Everglades and other wetlands in the United States.

If you're looking for opportunities to see alligators in their natural habitat, there's no better way to view them than on an airboat ride. After seeing these modern-day dinosaurs on your airboat tour, visit our Gator Park where we have plenty of gator viewing and gator interaction for you and your family to enjoy. But the fun doesn’t stop there; if you hop in your car and cruise on over to our Drive-thru Safari Park, you’ll be able to see more than 50 alligators, crocs, and caimans. Join us on an unforgettable journey into the heart of Florida's wilderness, and book your adventure now!

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