The researchers knew an alligator was attacking a prey when the animal made a head-strike or jaw-snap move. An attack was considered successful if it was followed by the animal's chewing and swallowing. The researchers estimated that on average, American alligators successfully consumed one prey, or group of small prey species, every four hours.
The footage also revealed that the animals were twice as successful at capturing prey when they were submerged, but they often came to the surface to eat the prey.
"If submerged at the time of prey capture, alligators often surfaced to immobilize, crush, reposition, and swallow captured prey," the researchers write in their study, which is detailed today (Jan. 15) in the journal PLOS ONE.
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