Sounds of violent splashing in Florida’s Silver Springs State Park led a woman on a paddleboard to discover a very large alligator was in the process of eating one of its own.
Tammy Shaw shared images and video of the grisly moment on the Alligators of Florida Facebook group, showing the large alligator was slapping its prey against the water — to rip its meal into bite-sized pieces.
It happened around 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 4, and Shaw says she was at first unsure of what the alligator had in its mouth.
Then she saw the alligator slowly rise out of the water and begin slinging the carcass around like a rag doll.
“Kind of intense, but super cool to witness,” Shaw said.
“My (inflatable) paddleboard is 11 feet and he was close to that (in size) if not longer. The gator he was eating would have been 5 to 7 feet. The video cut short because I felt a little too close for comfort after he slammed it down.”
Silver Springs State Park is known to be home to “many” alligators, and they thrive in the water and on banks of the Silver River, according to The Florida Guidebook. The park is about 85 miles northwest of Orlando.
Shaw is a frequent visitor and says gators at the park “just do their own thing and are not really looking for trouble.”
It’s not clear how the smaller gator came to be prey, but Shaw’s video shows its head was missing.
Cannibalism isn’t uncommon for gators, including elder alligators eating the young. One study found “6 percent to 7 percent of young alligators fall victim to the cruel fate of cannibalism,” Live Science reports.
Another Facebook video shared Aug. 6 by Kayla Green appears to show the same alligator — named “Big Head Fred” — resorted to slapping the dead gator against the muddy river bank to soften it up.
Shaw’s post has gotten hundreds of reactions, with many perplexed as to what drove the older alligator to “snack” on another gator. Some guessed it was intense hunger, while others suspected a territorial dispute.
Many agreed Shaw was brave to linger long enough to record the video.
“That’s the most prehistoric thing I’ve ever seen,” one person wrote on Facebook.
“If King Kong and Godzilla had a baby, I think it would act something like that,” another posted.
“He doesn’t care what it is at that point: Fish, gator or human,” someone said.
“This is precisely why I love my little chlorinated body of water. It’s not fancy, but I have no gator MMA happening in there,” a user wrote.
American alligators are native to all 67 counties in Florida and “can be found anywhere there is standing water,” the state reports.