Go Gators! Rangers take visitors into the belly of the beast

Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 03:46 PM.

"They love dogs," said Roberts, citing an incident in Blackwater State Park where an alligator had eaten at least seven dogs, evidenced by dog accessories in his stomach, including the tracking collar of one $5,000 hunting dog.

"Dogs don't know what that gator is — they'll just sit and 'yip, yip, yip,' " said Roberts.

They will eat most four-legged mammals, as well as birds.

"Alligators are not picky eaters," said Roberts, adding that many have been found with everything from fishing lures to beer cans in their stomachs.

Lucky for us, alligators don't prefer two-legged prey. "They don't really want us," said Roberts, adding that though alligator attacks on humans are rare, they are not completely unheard of. "They're scared of us."

Any four-legged prey, however, is fair game for the adult-sized gator. But they have to make it to that age first.

When they hatch, the six- to eight-inch babies have a mere 20 percent chance at survival. Eighty percent are eaten in their first two years of life, whether by birds, snakes, raccoons, or even large bass.

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