Florida Cannibal Crocodile Eats Love Rival after Killing Him: 'You Can See Him about to Swallow Its Leg'

A cannibal crocodile in Florida has been snapped eating a male rival after killing him in a courtship battle. The picture shows the "large male" swallowing the leg of his victim in the Everglades.

The image was taken by Dylann Turffs, a ranger working in Everglades National Park and was subsequently shared online. In an Instagram post, she said: "A few weeks back Kevin and I went to the park to test our new lens and were rewarded with one of the most incredible sightings. This large male American crocodile was courting a female croc and had recently killed another male. Here you can see him about to swallow its leg."

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, American crocodiles live in coastal areas in the Caribbean and south Florida. They live in saltwater ponds, creeks and swamps. The National Park Service notes males can grow to be about 20 feet, but normally only reach around 14 feet in the wild.

Instances of cannibalism in crocodiles have been recorded before.

In 2015, pictures emerged of a huge saltwater crocodile in Queensland, Australia, throwing a smaller crocodile into the air before eating it. At the time, crocodile specialist Adam Britton, who works for film company Big Gecko, told the Sydney Morning Herald these encounters can be the result of breeding season: "Saltwater crocs can definitely be cannibalistic, particularly this time of year at the start of the wet season. You are getting an increase in temperature, getting more rainfall and that is triggering the crocodile's breeding behaviour."

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He continued: "If a big dominant male comes across a smaller male then basically he is going to want to get rid of that competitor and driving them out. That is the first thing they will try and do but if that doesn't work they are quite happy to go and kill them. It is usually males eating males."

Alligators are also known to engage in cannibalism. In 2011, a study by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission showed that young alligators often fall victim to cannibalism. Researchers analyzed the stomach contents of 267 alligators from Orange Lake, finding 12 percent of them contained wildlife tags belonging to juveniles. The researchers believe cannibalism of the young may serve as a way for alligators to control the population—by removing between six and seven percent of the population.

They said cannibalism in alligators may vary in different regions where there are different environmental conditions—but that their findings show this behavior plays a role in population dynamics, and should be an area of further research.

Everglades crocodile
Cannibal croc in Everglades National Park Everglades National Park/Dylann Turffs