By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer
When it comes to animal enemies, there are some pretty obvious pairs, like cats and dogs, snakes and mice, or lions and gazelles. But, let me ask you this… who’d eat who in a vicious battle between a fuzzy otter and a powerful alligator? Reptiles may be cold-blooded killers, but the trophy goes to the otter in this round!
Apparently, otters are almost considered to be apex predators – the top hunters in their environments who are rarely hunted by others. In other words, they are close to the top of the food chain! The creatures are also intelligent, have quick reflexes, and eat critters like fish, frogs, beavers, raccoons, and turtles. Still, how the heck does a cute-faced, 30-pound mammal take down a young, 4-5 foot long gator? According to experts, the main difference lies in the fact that mammals are endothermic (warm-blooded) and reptiles are ectothermic (cold-blooded).
See, warm-blooded creatures generate heat from the food they consume through chemical reactions. A vital part of the reaction is oxygen, which muscles need to function properly. Since these “endotherms” are constantly using oxygen to carry out chemical reactions, their muscles have greater access to the molecule and can work for much longer. Cold-blooded “ectotherms” on the other hand, don’t get heat from oxygen-dependent chemical reactions, but rather their environments. When ectotherms use their muscles, energy comes in quick bursts before the oxygen-starved muscles must stop to replace what they’ve lost.
So, during a recent fight between an otter and an alligator, the cold-blooded reptile literally worked itself to death and became a hearty meal for the enduring mammal!
Images courtesy of Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge on Facebook.