Experts were stunned to find a fully intact adult female deer and two squirrels inside the stomach of a 1,000-pound, 15-foot-long, record-breaking alligator found in Alabama.
“I’ve looked at the stomach contents of a lot of alligators and have never seen a squirrel in any of them,” said Dr. Kent Vliet, a reptilian biologist who has been researching reptiles for 30 years, reports AL.com. “I don’t even know how a gator that big would go about catching one. Maybe they fell into the water during a storm or something.”
What is more puzzling is that alligators’ strong stomach acid is capable of burning a human hand within a few minutes, but for some reason did not touch the deer or the two squirrels.
“In my experience, the hair and some of the skin would have been gone on that deer within the first 36 hours. It probably caught the squirrels within the previous 24 hours,” Vliet said. “What you had here was a big alligator that was warm and really cranked up and running efficiently. Even though that deer would have provided enough energy for it to survive for two years, it just couldn’t pass up those squirrels.”
Ken Owens, the taxidermist mounting the gator, who is also a certified scorer for Safari Club International, said he was shocked both by the size of the alligator and what it had eaten.
“I’ve done a few SCI Gold Medal deer and such, but this is the first as far as a potential world record goes,” he said.
Owens cut the gator open and found the deer and squirrels inside its stomach.
“I always thought that once an alligator killed something that it ate it a piece at a time,” Owens added. “I can’t imagine how it got ahold of that adult deer and ate it in one piece like that. It’s unbelievable.”
Alabama woman Mandy Stokes said she found and killed the large animal while alligator hunting.
“The main thing I remembered was the size of its feet,” she recalls. “When I saw the size of the foot on this one, I knew it was a good one.”
Sources: AL.com (2) / Photo credit: Sharon Steinman/AL.com