(Mirror Daily, United States) – In case you didn’t find alligators scary enough, a recent study reveals they often snack on other predators which often exceed their own size. These ferocious killers might sometimes include sharks in their diet if they have the opportunity to catch one and enjoy a luxurious feast.
Alligators surprised researchers with their diet
Generally, the diet of American alligators consists of any living being which gets too close to them. Most of the time, these are birds, mammals, or fish. However, it seems the beasts don’t limit themselves to small prey, as they can often be the banes of other feared predators, namely sharks. Researchers came to this conclusion while studying the diets of gators living around the coasts of Florida and Georgia.
Until now, people sometimes spotted alligators feasting on sharks, but these were only a few isolated cases. This study, published in the journal Southeastern Naturalist, confirms these phenomena, and even brings evidence of a more extensive interaction between the two predators.
They don’t feast on big sharks, but they can still affect their populations
Alligators live in freshwater areas, while sharks spend their lives in saltwater. However, it often happens that the latter trespass on the territory of the gators, and they cannot miss the change to feast on a royal meal. Also, alligators can spend some time in saltwater themselves.
However, gators are still not worthy enough to bite into the Great White shark. What they can pry on includes smaller sharks, as well as one species of stingray. The research revealed how these creatures often swim in estuaries where freshwater and saltwater meet. Sharks often use these places as nurseries for their young.
Now, researchers are trying to assess the importance of eating small sharks for alligators. Since they often interfere with their nurseries, too much intervention from the gators might perturb the shark populations, and even raise conservation concerns.
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