What Do Alligator Gar Eat?

Written by August Croft
Updated: February 19, 2023
© TKBackyard/Shutterstock.com
Share this post on:


A giant and fearsome fish, the alligator gar is likely to eat a wide variety of things. Given its large mouth and teeth, this isn’t an animal that you want to see while swimming

So, what do alligator gar eat? Alligator gar eat birds, turtles, other fish, and small mammals. They are a carnivorous type of fish, but they don’t usually pose a threat to humans.

But how much do these very large fish eat? And are there any predators out there capable of taking this fish on? Let’s learn all about the alligator gar now!

77,953 People Couldn't Ace This Quiz

Think You Can?

What Does an Alligator Gar Eat?

What Do Alligator Gar Eat?
So, what do alligator gar eat? Alligator gar eat birds, turtles, other fish, and small mammals.

©Cheng Wei/Shutterstock.com

Alligator gar are opportunistic and voracious eaters, usually responsible for keeping certain fish species in check so that their populations don’t grow too large.

An alligator gar eats fish that are smaller than it, small mammals, birds, and even turtles. Alligator gar love to eat shad, buffalo fish, and carp. Wildlife departments across the Southeastern United States use these ancient fish to maintain their aquatic ecosystems, as there is often a delicate balance involved here.

Speaking of ancient, the alligator gar has ancestors dating back more than 200 million years! Through fossil records, we know that alligator gar are among some of the oldest and largest fish species on earth.

A Complete List of 10 Foods Alligator Gar Eat

Alligator gar have been known to eat the following foods:

What Do Alligator Gar Eat?
An alligator gar eats fish that are smaller than it, small mammals, birds, and even turtles.


Alligator gar usually ambush their prey. They’re capable of remaining still for long periods of time in the water. Gar can make themselves look like logs, springing to life should a fish swim too close to their mouths.

Alligator gar have been known to eat prey that is up to 25% of their body length. They prefer smaller fish to eat, as their teeth easily come out. They are like crocodiles in this way, capable of regrowing any of their teeth, and they may go through over 1,000 teeth in their lifetimes.

Speaking of lifetimes, alligator gar live an average of 35 years. They don’t even start maturing until around the age of ten, giving them ample time to grow and live before reproducing. This fish is a wonder in terms of how long it can live and how long it has been on this earth!

How Much Does an Alligator Gar Eat?

Alligator gar eat almost constantly, especially at a young age. They require ample food, both in the wild and in captivity, and are often found eating in the wild. Given how opportunistic this fish is, don’t be surprised if it steals your bait or your waterfowl after a day of hunting.

Given the size of this fish, you can bet that it needs to eat a decent amount. The largest alligator gar ever caught weighed over 300 pounds, and some can reach 8 feet long or more. This is one fish that needs to eat!

Young gar can waste away if not given ample food when kept in captivity. Their extremely fast metabolisms mean that they require a decent amount of food per day. This also means they have the potential of growing fast as well!

Alligator gar also grow quickly. In their first year, they can reach almost two feet in length, though their growth tapers off after their second year. According to The Southwestern Nationalist, male alligator gar are usually much smaller than female alligator gar.

Do Alligator Gar Have Any Predators?

What Do Alligator Gar Eat?
Alligator gar eat almost constantly, especially at a young age.

©Bill Roque/Shutterstock.com

Alligator gar do not have very many predators. Given their large size and relative aggression to all smaller species, most fish don’t choose the alligator gar as someone to pick fights with.

However, the alligator gar does have one primary predator: humans. The human race has hunted alligator gar for centuries, though it is a species that is hunted far less now. This is due to our overfishing of it in the first place, as well as the bad reputation alligator gar have as being scavenger fish.

Small or juvenile alligator gar do have more predators than fully grown ones. Given the fact that alligator gar grow much more slowly after the first two years of their lives, alligator gar may become prey more often than we think.

Young alligator gar are often consumed by birds, other fish, and alligators. Yes, the actual alligator, not other alligator gar! However, once this fish reaches a large enough size, most birds and fish don’t mess with it.

Is An Alligator Gar Dangerous to Humans?

Most Expensive Fish: Platinum Alligator Gar
Alligator gar do not have very many predators as they’re large and aggressive.

©Danny Ye/Shutterstock.com

Alligator gar are not usually dangerous to humans. This fish tends not to mess with anything larger than it, choosing to remain peaceful toward humans and larger predators. It is a solitary nighttime hunter as well, preferring to catch other fish in the dark when it can best ambush its prey.

Alligator gar have not been known to attack or hunt humans. They have however been known to steal fish or waterfowl game from hunters or fishermen. As we’ve mentioned already, alligator gar are extremely opportunistic eaters!

However, while you won’t likely get bit by an alligator gar, it is important to note that alligator gar eggs are toxic. Whatever is found within these eggs can make humans sick, so it is best to avoid eating these at all costs.

While adult alligator gar can be eaten (and have been eaten in the past), they have the potential of carrying various river diseases with them. They can be exposed to water hazards as well as unfortunate circumstances from whatever they choose to eat. Therefore, it is not a great idea to eat an alligator gar.

Share this post on:
About the Author

I am a non-binary freelance writer working full-time in Oregon. Graduating Southern Oregon University with a BFA in Theatre and a specialization in creative writing, I have an invested interest in a variety of topics, particularly Pacific Northwest history. When I'm not writing personally or professionally, you can find me camping along the Oregon coast with my high school sweetheart and Chihuahua mix, or in my home kitchen, perfecting recipes in a gleaming cast iron skillet.

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