Study Finds Alligators and Crocodiles Eat Fruit

Posted on August 22, 2013

A new study led by the Wildlife Conservation Society has found that the American alligator and crocodiles eat fruit along with their normal meat-heavy diets of mammals, birds, and fish. The study suggests crocodilians may play a role in forest regeneration through digesting and passing seeds from fruits.

The authors looked at 18 species of crocodilian ranging from the American alligator to the Nile crocodile and found 13 of the species consumed some form of fruit including a variety of berries, legumes, nuts, and grains. The authors say that while some of the fruit ingestion may have been incidental to prey capture, evidence shows that other fruit is consumed deliberately and in large quantities.

Steven Platt of the Wildlife Conservation Society, the study's lead author, says in a release, "Although underreported, fruit eating appears widespread among crocodilians. Given the biomass of crocodiles in many subtropical and tropical wetlands and their capacity for ingesting large numbers of fruits, we consider it likely that crocodilians function as significant seed dispersal agents in many freshwater ecosystems."

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