An eerie video recently shared on Facebook shows an incidence of what appears to be gator-on-gator cannibalism filmed in a Florida lake, about 15 miles northwest of Orlando. Captured at Lake Apopka by Floridian Dawn Jarman, the clip starts with a partially-decayed gator moving across the lake’s surface. As the camera pans, it becomes apparent that an even larger alligator is steering the dead reptile around in the water by the tip of its tail.
“My friends and I thought that it was just a dead gator sitting in the water. As soon as we stopped the car to look at it, it started moving and we realize there was another gator holding onto the tail,” Jarman told McClatchy News. “We were freaking out, of course, because it was a National Geographic moment.”
Jarman happened upon the grisly scene on July 28. She was celebrating her birthday, cruising along the popular Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive with a group of friends, when she noticed the rotting gator skimming across the lake’s surface. She estimated the dead gator at roughly 9 to 10 feet long. Eventually, both gators came to a stop in the middle of the lake, and Jarman drove away.
Jarman’s video mirrors a similar incident filmed earlier this summer at Lake Apopka, by Meagan Tallman of Sorrento, Florida. Tallman posted her video to Facebook as well, along with the caption, “Eat or be eaten,” and it was later shared by Newsweek. The dead alligator in the Tallman video appears to be in a more advanced state of decay, though it’s not clear when the reptile died—or wether or not it was consumed by the bigger gator seen dragging it around.
According to the University of Florida, the largest alligator ever recorded in Florida was killed in Lake Apopka and and measured 17 feet, 5 inches. A study published in the Herpetologica Journal in 1993, found that cannibalism—or “intrepecific predation”—is a common occurrence in American alligator populations. While data suggests that adult alligators are more cannibalistic than smaller gators, the researchers in the 1993 study also observed young gators preying on smaller juveniles and hatchlings.