Watch This Alligator Eat a Whole Turtle, Shell and All

Alligator Teeth - Close Up
© Nagel Photography/

Written by Kirstin Harrington

Updated: October 19, 2023

Share on:


Have you ever heard the silly saying, “I’m so hungry I could eat a whale!”? While it’s all in good fun and we humans could never actually eat an entire whale, one alligator must’ve been hungry when he came across a turtle

Alligators will wait for a chance to eat rather than aggressively seeking it out as the majority of predators like lions or wolves do. Alligators often consume bugs, frogs, fish, lizards, turtles, and other small animals while hiding out in the dense swamp.

A small YouTube channel called Owen Sneath posted a video in March of 2016 that has amassed over 237,000 views. A woman is filming an alligator in a swamp during his afternoon meal. He’s seen chugging down an entire turtle, including the shell! 

Watch This Alligator Swallow a Turtle in the Video Below!

The person behind the camera can be heard saying “Thank you for the show, buddy” as the alligator impressively gulps the shelled creature down his throat. He moves the turtle around quite a bit and at one point, it almost falls out of the alligator’s mouth. 

It may be surprising to some viewers that the shell isn’t crunching into bits. What we see in the video is a soft shell turtle. One of the biggest freshwater turtle species in North America is the spiny softshell turtle. Their exoskeleton sets them apart from other turtle species. Their shell is stretchy, squishy, and flat, unlike the shells of most other turtles. Small spines can be seen on the flexible borders of the carapace.

A spiny soft shell turtle on a a beach with its neck stretched out looking around

Spiny softshell turtles have soft, leathery shells with small spines along the upper section.

©Mark W. Holdren/

The shocking video is an authentic look into Mother Nature. One comment reads, “Absolutely fantastic quality, I wished all videos were like this!” We agree! The distance between the apex predator and the camera paired with the quality makes for an incredible sight to see! Alligators can break the bones of tiny animals with their 3,000 pounds per square inch of pressure and consume them whole. This is why we don’t see the gator remove the shell before he starts munching. 

The alligator will keep its catch underwater by wedging it beneath a log or tree root if its victim is too big to swallow everything at once. Most of the time, a turtle can simply hide from a predator by pulling its head and limbs into the shell. By the looks of the one in this video, we think the gator got to the turtle’s head before it could hide away. 

The woman filming seems unfazed by what she’s seeing. It’s not abnormal to see alligators attack other wildlife in Florida. It makes you think about what you would do if you witnessed such a sight in your own backyard! 

Share this post on:
About the Author

Kirstin is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering animals, news topics, fun places, and helpful tips. Kirstin has been writing on a variety of topics for over five years. She has her real estate license, along with an associates degree in another field. A resident of Minnesota, Kirstin treats her two cats (Spook and Finlay) like the children they are. She never misses an opportunity to explore a thrift store with a coffee in hand, especially if it’s a cold autumn day!

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.