American alligator

Alligator mississippiensis

The American Alligator is sometimes referred to as the gator or common alligator and is a large crocodilian reptile common to the southeastern United States. The Alligator inhabits freshwater wetlands, such as marshes and cypress swamps from Texas to North Carolina. Male Alligators use infrasound to attract females. Eggs are laid in a nest of vegetation, sticks, leaves, and mud in a sheltered spot in or near the water. Young are born with yellow bands around their bodies and are protected by their mother for up to one year.Alligators are predators. An alligator’s eyes, ears, and nostrils are all located along the top of its head. This allows the alligator to keep its head slightly above water for long periods of time, while its body is securely hidden underneath. This type of concealment helps the alligator hunt for its prey without ever being noticed. Once the prey gets too close, the alligator will use its long, strong jaws and sharp teeth to swiftly clamp down on its unsuspecting meal.

American alligators are either black or greenish-black in color. They have armor of scales covering the top and bottom of their bodies for protection. A row of bony plates can be found along their backs. Their long, powerful tails help them to swim and use as a weapon against other alligators.

Breeding occurs during late spring and early summer. The female alligator can lay as many as 50 eggs. After building a nest in a sheltered spot, she will cover the eggs with more vegetation and mud to generate heat during incubation, much like a compost effect. An amazing fact is if the eggs remain at 85 degrees Fahrenheit or less, the hatchlings will be females. If the eggs stay above 91 F, the hatchlings will be males. If the temps remain between these two degrees, the hatchlings will be a mix of male and female.

Alligators can live up to 50 years in the wild and 80 years in captivity. The American alligators are found in the southeastern wet lowlands of the United States. However, they do not live in the salty waters of the ocean.

DIET

Alligators consume fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.

FAST FACTS

Size: 9 – 15 feet length
Weight: 1,000 lbs
Lifespan: 30 – 50 years in
the wild.

CONSERVATION STATUS

LEAST CONCERN