The Mcbrides track cougars (Puma concolor) for the Florida Department of Natural Resources. Roy Mcbride began tracking Florida panthers in 1972 when there was some doubt over whether this species still existed in state. (The Florida panther is the same species as the cougar but I prefer using the latter common name.) A few years ago, the Mcbrides interrupted a cougar feeding upon an alligator it had killed. They treed the cat and examined the alligator. Cougars were known to occasionally prey on smaller alligators, but the Mcbrides were surprised at the size of this specimen. It measured 8 feet, 8 inches–the largest gator ever known to be killed by a cougar. The cougar had eaten the brisket (chest area) of the gator but was so spooked by the trackers it never returned to the carcass. The Mcbrides published their discovery in the Southeastern Naturalist. Below is the 1st page of the 2 page article.
Cats are courageous hunters. Still, it seems unexpected that they would take on such a dangerous choice of prey. Nevertheless, caimans make up a significant portion of the jaguar’s diet in certain parts of the Amazon jungle.
Jaguar killing caiman.
Leopards and tigers rarely prey on crocodiles, yet they have been recorded slaying them.
This leopard actually dragged the crocodile from the water onto land and killed it.
Youtube video of a tiger killing a crocodile.
A big cat’s strategy for hunting a crocodilian is cunningly effective. They attack from behind, get a good grip on the reptile, and bite through the braincase, killing it instantly. They don’t just ambush crocodilians sunning themselves on the riverbank. The leopard in the above photos dove into the water and yanked the crocodile from its own element.
I wonder if saber-tooths (Smilodon fatalis) ever attacked alligators. Saber-tooths had a weaker bite force than any species of extant big cat. Their big canines would have been at risk of breaking, if they tried to bite through an alligator’s skull. However, they were very powerful and would have been capable of rolling the alligator on its back and slicing through its throat with their fangs. Jaguars were 1 of the most common large predators in southeastern North America during the Pleistocene and undoubtedly took a toll on alligators here then.
Mcbride, Roy; and Cougar Mcbride
“Predation of a Large Alligator by a Florida Panther”
Southeastern Naturalist 9 (4) 2010