If you think about alligators and crocodiles chomping and gnashing their toothy maws it might bring forth images of their chowing down on reptiles, amphibians, or even small mammals. Crocodilians are often thought of as carnivores but did you know their diet goes beyond meat?
Alligators, crocodiles, and other crocodilians consume a diversity of fruits and nuts, making their dietary niche broader than previously thought. Observations of feeding behaviors and reports of fruits and seeds in stomach contents and fecal matter revealed that crocodilians consume substantial amounts of fruits such as pond apples, avocados, pawpaws, and a variety of berries.
With such high levels of fruit consumption, it is clear that crocodilians are intentionally consuming these foods. Of course, eating these fruits provides a diversity of micronutrients to crocodilians, but there might be something bigger at play here. Consuming fruits might very well be aiding them in digestion, and not just because of the fiber.
Crocodilians do not chew their food, so the things they consume are often intact when entering the stomach. The stomach is highly acidic, causing softer foods to be digested rapidly, leaving behind the seeds. The harder foods still require mechanical digestion that crocodilians achieve using gastroliths, which are typically small stones consumed to aid in physical breakdown of foods in the stomach. Seeds and hard pits from the fruit might be acting as gastroliths for the crocodilians giving them even more reason to consume such a diversity of foods
Next time you reach for an avocado remember that your snack is also a favorite of some of the most terrifying creatures out there.