Feeding ecology and diet

A typical juvenile diet includes snails and other invertebrates, whereas adults of various species commonly eat fish, small mammals, other reptiles (including smaller alligatorids), or birds. Opportunistic feeders, alligatorids continue to eat clams, snails, and invertebrates into adulthood. The larger species, including the black caiman, are known to take large prey, such as small deer and cattle.

Predation of alligatorids occurs primarily among eggs and hatchlings. Raccoons, coati, skunks, foxes, and other mammals, as well as snakes and various raptors, are known to raid nests or snatch up young alligatorids. Once an alligatorid reaches about 3 ft (1 m) in length, the risk of predation decreases. Nonetheless, anacondas in South America occasionally kill adult caimans, and alligatorids have been reported to have cannibalistic tendencies. Cannibalism is rare, however, and alligatorids frequently live peacefully in large groups.

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