By: Leah Ben
All you Mighty Moms and Dads out there know how much of a challenge dinner time can be. If you ever feel like you’re feeding a pack of wild animals, how about trying to feed the biggest, baddest gator outside of Florida? Biologists at Adventure Aquarium are faced with this task every week.
Our biologists don’t need to set a table for Mighty Mike; they target feed him. Just like your family members may have claimed their own permanent spot at the table, Mighty Mike knows exactly where to go for his meal. Biologists use a pole to tap a certain space of Mighty Mike’s exhibit, and he walks right to that spot. This keeps a two-foot barrier between Mighty Mike, the feeder, and the spotter. Once he walks over, biologists toss food right into his mouth!
So, what exactly do you feed a 14 foot, 800 pound, 50 year old American Alligator? Mighty Mike’s diet consists of portions of chicken, fish and rats, but favorite food is actually pork shoulder. Mighty Mike is so large, one would assume he eats a LOT; however, he consumes only about 300 pounds of food each year; we humans consume more than 6 times that amount! This gator eats every 5-6 days, but he can eat 6-8 lbs of food at one time. The reason alligators eat a relatively small amount is because they often lounge for long periods of time which helps to conserve energy.
Mighty Mike’s best utensils are his teeth and jaw. An alligator has the strongest bite of any living animal – up to 2,100 lbs of pressure! Most of the muscle in an alligator’s jaw is intended for biting down on and gripping prey. If the pieces aren’t too large, Mike can swallow his food whole. It only takes about 5 minutes for a feeding to happen from start to finish. Talk about fast food!
Check out a video of biologists feeding Mighty Mike:
Mighty Mike will be calling Adventure Aquarium home until September 16. Plan your visit today!