That’s right armchair herpetologists! Alligators, crocodiles and other crocodilians will go way out of their way to eat some fruit for a complete, balanced and healthy diet. While that fact is really cool on its own, we all just want to watch giant gators chomp down watermelons, right?
A recent study of crocodilian diets shows that 13 of the 18 species monitored went out of their way to consume fruit and plants. About 25% of the fruit that the crocs ate were of the peach-like or “fleshy” variety, and while there are general speculations being thrown around, we don’t know why these carnivores feel like chomping down some grapes, berries, kumquats, nuts and melons between taking down water buffalos. The most popular theory is that these grazing gators might be dispersing seeds in their feces like many bird species commonly do, but researchers will still need to keep their eye on their feeding habits and how digestion effects devoured seeds to test that estimated guess.
The diets of these alpha predators is still mostly composed of meat, but plant matter has been found and ignored by researchers examining crocodile digestive systems and poo until now because any discovered fruit remnants were considered to have been consumed unintentionally. You can’t blame the researchers, as witnessing crocodilians snacking on citrus fruits in the wild is a very rare sight, but it apparently happens more than you’d think.
So what did we learn today? The next time you’re cornered by a Nile crocodile, toss it a fruit salad so you can safely escape!