Do Alligators Eat Turtles?

Have you ever seen a turtle ride on an alligator’s back? While it may be odd, this is a natural agreement between the two. Throughout this guide, we’ll explain what these two reptiles have in common and why both of them get along!

Do Alligators Eat Turtles?

Yes, Alligators do eat turtles. They have very strong bite that can tear open turtle shell easyly. They are one of the few species that can do this.

Alligators have an opportunistic approach to hunting. Unlike animals such as sharks, cheetahs, lions, etc. that search for food, the alligator waits for their prey to approach them and snap them with their teeth. 

Despite its hard shell, alligators can destroy it in one bite. Alligators aren’t known to be picky eaters. Their carnivorous and predatory nature pushes them to devour anything that’s within reach, especially during the feeding period. 

An alligator eating a turtle shell is as easy as a human cracking open a pistachio. On average, male alligators grow to be 600lbs and 11 feet. Females can grow up to 8 feet and reach half the weight of males. With their large size, alligators have no problem eating a turtle!

Do Alligators Eat Snapping Turtles?

Alligators tend to prey on snapping turtles. Both snapping turtles and alligators live in freshwater, making the turtles an easy meal for the gator. Despite being an aggressive species, alligators can eat snapping turtles with ease. 

The Alligator snapping turtle is a species of snapping turtles that has the same resemblance as alligators. Even though it has similar looks and shells of an alligator, alligator snapping turtles will still be the target of a hungry alligator. 

Why Do Turtles Ride On Alligators?

On some occasions, you can see a turtle ride on an alligator’s back. Their short-term unison is also known as phoresy. Phoresy is an ecological concept where a temporary relationship occurs between two animals. Throughout the relationship, one animal uses the other as a means of transportation.

For instance, a turtle could be riding through a large body of water on a gator’s back. Or, the alligator might create a temporary basking spot for the turtles. Sometimes, a turtle will play on an alligator’s back.

Can Turtles and Alligators Live Together?

Based on some sightings, turtles and alligators can live together. Why does this turtle/alligator relationship work? That’s because the alligator doesn’t search for food but waits for food when it’s hungry. 

Once the feeding phase has started, the alligator will eat anything that comes its way.

Perhaps, turtles get along with alligators when they’re not hungry. 

In addition, alligators only see certain animals as food. For instance, alligators that haven’t seen a human before will be afraid of people. However, alligators that are fed by people will view people as food and harm them. 

In Florida, feeding alligators are punishable by a $500 fine or serving 2 months in jail. By feeding alligators, humans are teaching them to associate humans with food.

This means that if an alligator doesn’t see an animal as food, it won’t eat it.

Maybe, turtles can lie with alligators because the alligator doesn’t view them as a meal. 

What Do Turtles and Alligators Have in Common?

Although they are different in size and mannerisms, both turtles and alligators are similar in many ways. Here are some aspects that they have in common: 

  • Eat Less Food

Since turtles and alligators are both cold-blooded, they can go longer without needing food. Warm-blooded animals often eat to maintain their body temperature. On the other hand, cold-blooded animals don’t have to use all of their energy to maintain their body temperature. In other words, they need less food to survive. 

  • Both Produce Eggs

Both turtles and alligators are born in egg form. They are both reptiles, meaning that they produce hard-shelled eggs. Turtles and alligators fertilize their eggs internally and hide their eggs to prevent their newborns from being prey. 

  • Scales

There is a reason why the alligator snapping turtle looks like an alligator. Both turtles and alligators have scales to help protect their skin predators. Plus, alligators and turtles are reptiles, so their scales are made for land and water environments. As they become adults, their scales become tougher and larger. 

Turtle scales are called “scutes.” Scutes are grown on the back of the shell and provide extra protection. While tortoises and turtle scutes are similar, there is one thing that sets them apart. Tortoises are unable to shed their scutes. Turtles can, and they do it to help adapt to their current environment. 

Conclusion

Turtles and alligators are great friends most of the time. However, an alligator will attack a turtle during feeding season. While both get along, an alligator is still a predatory animal and will crack open a turtle’s shell when they get the chance. In conclusion, keep your turtle pets away from alligators to prevent them from becoming gator food!

F.A.Q

Can Alligators Digest Turtle-Shells?

Alligators can eat turtle shells when preying on them. While they don’t have hands to remove the shell, alligators bite the shell to snap it in one piece. After the bite, the turtle shell is crushed and creates a chunk of meat that fits the alligator’s throat.

With the size of an adult alligator’s mouth, eating a turtle shell is no issue. Alligator’s digestive system is capable of digesting shells, cartilage, bones – pretty much anything they can put their jaws on. 

When attacking, alligators drown their prey underwater before eating it above water. Since turtles can swim underwater, the alligator can crush the shell and body before swallowing. 

How does an alligator break turtle shells? When alligators attack turtles, they crush the shell with their strong jaws. No matter how sturdy the turtle’s shell is, it is weak against the alligator’s jaw power. 

Alligators are one of the strongest animals within the animal kingdom. Imagine being pushing open an alligator’s mouth; it would require the same strength needed to lift a pickup truck. Alligator bites have a force that’s around 9,452 newtons. Fortunately, these alligators will ignore a turtle shell if they notice it lying around!

What Are Turtle Scales Made Of?

Turtle scales are made of Keratin. In humans, keratin is the material used to create our nails. Now turtle scales are not like human nails, and scales don’t consist of 100% keratin. There are other factors in small quantities that make turtle scales slightly different. 

Like humans, turtles are unique. No one has the same nails, and some have more resistant nails than others. The way a human’s genetics, treatments, and diet influence the durability of their nails, so the same factors can influence a turtle’s scales. 

So, turtle scales consist of keratin, and depending on external and internal factors; there are traces of other materials. 

Do Alligators Eat Turtle Eggs?

Alligators don’t eat turtle eggs. Based on their mouth shape and their size, grabbing a turtle egg with their long jaws is next to impossible. Alligators tend to attack larger prey like adult turtles because their bodies have more meat. This makes it easier for the alligator to remain full for a longer time, making it an obvious choice why they hunt for turtles.

How Often Do Alligators Eat? 

Alligators search for prey at night. During this phase, they remain motionless for hours, chase after the prey with startling speed, then swallow it whole. Alligators are lurkers, not hunters. They have skin sensors that help them detect anything that moves in the water. 

Alligators keep their nostrils and eyes above the water. They tend to select prey based on their size. Additionally, they have strong tails that help them jump approximately 5 feet out of water. This helps them catch smaller animals sitting near low-hanging trees. 

After finding a larger prey, the alligator holds onto them tightly with their jaws. If they cannot eat their prey in one bite, they will hide the remaining food and let it rot. Alternatively, alligators will eat their prey by spinning it until large chunks of flesh are torn off. This is called the “death roll” and is a dangerous hunting technique alligators use. 

Alligators don’t need to eat often. Since they’re cold-blooded animals, eating weekly is perfect for them. Excessive calories are stored converted to fat and stored underneath the tail. In fact, an alligator can survive without eating food for two years.

What is the Alligator’s Diet?

American alligators live in freshwater environments. They tend to hang out in marshes, wetlands, bogs, brackish lagoons, lakes, and rivers are their favorite habitats. Young alligators love eating tadpoles, snails, small fish, insects, and frogs.

As they become older, they become more experienced at catching larger prey. Large alligators are capable of eating deer, mammals, turtles, large fish, gar, snakes, birds, and other reptiles. 

They also eat stones, which helps them swim underwater. Adult alligators prey on small animals that are easy to kill. Their powerful jaws help them kill small animals with a single bite. Alligators will eat a dead animal if they can’t find anything else to eat. Deer and razorbacks are their favorite food. In Florida, there are findings of alligators eating black bears, panthers, and watchdogs. 

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