The Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge in Florida recently posted photos that show a bizarre scene: an otter attacking and killing a medium-sized alligator. According to the refuge, the photos were taken by Geoff Walsh near an entrance road back in 2011.

So how exactly does an otter eat an alligator? Believe it or not, otters are actually the apex predator across much of their range. North American river otters are seen by wildlife officials as a good sign of river quality and habitat health, and more otters usually mean a thriving ecosystem. Otters have a broad diet but tend to prefer crustaceans and mollusks, which they can often be seen breaking open with a rock. Generally however, otters will eat anything they can get their agile hands on. This includes alligators.

Reptile keeper and expert Terry Phillips told National Geographic that the alligator in recent photos is not a newborn. To him, it looks like a four-year-old, and is a very impressive catch for the brave otter.

Phillips said that otters usually lack the teeth to bite through thick alligator skin. Instead, the mammal probably engaged its prey in a long wrestling bout while holding onto the back of the gator’s neck. After the reptile tired out, the otter likely brought it onshore and begin the methodical process of eating the alligator alive.

Despite their armored look, young alligators are vulnerable to many predators looking for an unorthodox meal. Once they reach upwards of 11 feet, however, alligators are threatened by very few animals.

 

Images courtesy Geoff Walsh/Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge

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