The motivation behind the attack remains unclear. Alligators tend to eat just about any prey that they can find in their environment. Larger alligators (larger than about 4 feet) will snack on all kinds of vertebrates, from fish to birds, to mammals. A particularly large alligator could even take down a small deer if it wanted to, Mazzotti said. "If you are small, even though an alligator might not normally think of a human as food, if there is a small object bouncing around the waters edge, it might," he says.