Prey and predator–as natural as watching a swallow catch a winged insect or downing a sushi roll; until the prey is more obvious or more attractive than the beast tracking it down. It’s hard to watch a National Geographic or Discovery Channel special on a hippo catching a wildebeest or a wolf pack running down an elk, but it is a fact of life on planet earth. We tend to identify with the prey and wish it didn’t have to die, at least like that. Right? I confess those are the emotions I feel.
On recent trips to the Everglades I have had opportunities to watch prey-predator dramas first hand.
Enter the “beautiful” Great Egret.
And the “beastly” American Alligator. Check out that toothy grin.
Note that these two creatures share the same habitat.
This Snowy Egret chose to relocate.
But, a Great Egret decided on this particular piece of real estate to pursue its own prey, a small water snake. I held my breath.
Do alligators eat egrets? Absolutely. Could this gator spring into action and nab the white beauty just inches from its tail? Sure.
The gator didn’t even twitch, but the egret got its prey. If you look closely, there’s a snake in its beak.
Alligators, being cold-blooded reptiles, use little energy and therefore can go months without food. Of course the egret has no way of knowing the condition of the gator’s belly, so hunting nearby becomes a gamble. On the other hand, egrets eat baby alligators, so…
I’ll let you finish the thought.