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Do Alligators Eat Turtles?

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Alligators eat a lot of animals. With their biting force, they can break the bones of mammals. Can alligators penetrate the shell of turtles? Have you ever seen a turtle riding on the back of an alligator? If Alligators can eat turtles, why does it seem that alligators and turtles get along? Read this article.

Do alligators eat turtles?

Alligators do eat turtles. With a biting force of 2125 psi, the shell of turtles is easily broken and penetrated by the teeth of gators. When alligators are not hungry or have another source of food, however, they make great friends with turtles.

alligators and turtles

Why are turtles not afraid of alligators even if alligators eat them? Are there other animals that can break the shell of turtles? Asides turtles, what do alligators eat? Keep reading.

What and How Do Alligators Eat?

Alligators are opportunistic predators. Unlike lions, cheetahs, sharks, etc. that search for their prey, alligators wait for their prey to come around and then quickly snap them with their teeth.

Examples of what alligators eat are:

  • Birds
  • Fishes
  • Snakes
  • Turtles
  • Mammals

Alligators are found in places where there are a lot of turtles, so alligators naturally have turtles on their menu. They just aren’t typically a preferred food if other prey is available.

How Alligators Crack the Shell of Turtles

With a biting force of 2125 pounds-force per square inch (psi), gators can easily break the shell of turtles. To put that into perspective, the biting force of man is between 220 and 300 psi.

The table below shows the biting force of some common predators:

AnimalBiting Force (PSI)
Grizzly Bear1200
Nile Crocodile5000
Spotted Hyena1100
American Alligator2125
Saltwater Crocodile3690

Jaguars that are also found in some turtle habitats have been found to crack turtle shells. Animals such as jaguars, crocodiles, alligators, etc. can crack the shell of turtles.

If Alligators eat turtles, why are turtles not afraid of them?

Why Do Turtles and Alligators Get Along?

turtles and alligators on a floating wood flooring

Do alligators and turtles get along? According to some sightings, it appears that turtles and alligators do get along. (source)

Why does it seem like alligators and turtles get along? Remember that alligators do not search for their foods, instead, they wait for their food when they are hungry.

When hungry, alligators will eat any food that comes their way. Perhaps, turtles that get along with gators are lucky that the gators are not hungry.

Another reason why gators and turtles can get along is that alligators have typically view only certain animals as food. For example, alligators that have not come across humans before will be scared of people, but alligators that are fed by people will view people as food and can harm people.

In the state of Florida, feeding gators is punishable by serving 60 days in jail or paying a $500 fine. (Source) This is because by feeding alligators, humans teach them to associate the presence of humans with food.

What this means is that if an individual gator does not view an animal as food, it may not eat it. Maybe, turtles get along with gators because those gators do not view them as food.

Whatever the reason why gators and turtles get along, it is still quite fascinating that such weird animal friendship exists.

Turtles Riding on Alligators

It is not uncommon for turtles to ride on the backs of gators. This kind of association is called phoresy in ecology.

Phoresy is the temporal relationship between two organisms in which one of them uses the other as a means of transportation. The turtle may be riding on the gator to go over the surface of the water. The gator may also just provide a nice way to sun themselves in an otherwise wide expanse of water.

turtles on backs of alligators

Sometimes, however, turtles may just be playing with the gators when they climb their backs.

Final Thoughts

Alligators eat turtles and other animals like snakes, fishes, mammals, etc. Even though alligators can eat turtles, they sometimes become friends and the gators even allow their turtle friend to ride on their back. Alligators, with a biting force of 2125 psi, can break the shell of turtles. To me, any turtle that is a friend of a gator is a risk-taker.


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