What Do Alligators Eat?

If you’re learning about alligators in school, you may be asking the question,”What do alligators eat?” On this page you’ll find the answer, written in a way that’s easy for kids to understand. Additionally, you’ll find a few neat printables about alligators.

What Do Alligators Eat?

Alligators are carnivores, which means they eat meat and hunt prey. The size of the prey depends on the size of the alligator. Young alligators tend to eat fish, insects, snails, crustaceans, and worms. Large adult alligators consume large fish, turtles, nutria (aka a river rat), muskrat, birds, deer and other reptiles.

what do alligators eat

Do Alligators Chew Their Food?

what do alligators eatEven though alligators have a bunch of teeth, they don’t chew their food. Usually alligators attack prey that is small enough to swallow whole. If an animal is too large, an alligator may let it rot. Alternatively, an alligator may bite into its prey and then spin around until a bite-size chunk is torn off. (This motion is called a death-roll.)

Do Alligators Eat Humans?

Alligators do not usually eat humans, nor do they view humans as prey. Usually when an alligator attacks a human, it does so in self-defense.


Here are the definitions to some words you may not have seen before.

  • Prey – An animal that is being hunted by another animal. (The animal doing the hunting is called the predator. Example: When an alligator tries to eat a turtle, the alligator is the predator, and the turtle is the prey.)
  • Crustacean – An animal with a hard outer shell and several pairs of legs. Crustaceans usually live in the water. Well-known crustaceans include crabs, lobsters and shrimp.
  • Nutria – A large rodent that lives by the water.
  • Muskrat – Another large rodent that lives on the water.

Alligator Printables

Here are a few free alligator printables your may like. You may print them for personal and educational purposes. Click the printable you wish to print. A larger high resolution version will open in your browser. Right-click and press “Save Image As…” to save it to your computer. Then open it in an image viewing program and send it to your printer.


what do alligators eat


  1. Fairweather, Gari D. Alligators and Other Crocodilians. Chicago, IL: World Book, 2001. Print.
  2. Fowler, Allan. Gator or Croc? New York: Children’s, 1996. Print.
  3. Gibbons, Gail. Alligators and Crocodiles. New York: Holiday House, 2010. Print.
  4. Landau, Elaine. Alligators and Crocodiles: Hunters of the Night. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Elementary, 2008. Print.
  5. Markle, Sandra. Outside and inside Alligators. New York: Atheneum for Young Readers, 1998. Print.
  6. Simon, Seymour. Crocodiles & Alligators. New York: HarperCollins, 1999. Print.

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