Okefenokee Alligator Apex Predator

American Alligator; Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Geogia.  ©www.williamwisephoto.com. Please don’t steal my images. Download and use legally from Dreamstime.com.

Their status as an apex predator is probably what makes the American Alligator so fascinating and formidable. Apex predators are those at the top of the food chain. They have few, if any, other natural predators.

While a big alligator is capable of killing almost any other animal in the Okefenokee Swamp,  the truth is they mostly take prey that gives them the least trouble. Since they can’t chew, they mostly take animals that can be swallowed. Yes, they are famed for the “gator roll” method of tearing apart large prey, but that is a big expenditure of energy.

Young alligators consume snails, frogs, small fish and insects. The larger gators will take larger prey if an opportunity presents itself. And though it seems strange, alligators may even eat one of their own kind, as seen below in this iNaturalist observation from Joe Girgente.

American Alligator consuming another American Alligator. Photographed by Joe Girgente in Caw Caw Interpretive Center in Charleston, SC. iNaturalist observation: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/48973711. Used by permission.

iNaturalist observation: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/49132311

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