American Alligator

Alligator mississippiensis

Class: Reptilia Order: Crocodylia Family: Crocodylidae

Size

Height: 8-15 ft   Weight: 600-1,000 lbs

Diet

Hatchlings eat small fish and invertebrates. Adult alligators prey on larger animals such as birds and deer.

Lifespan

Lifespan (Wild): 30-50 years
Lifespan (Captivity): 60-80 years

Habitat & Range

Freshwater swamps, rivers, and lakes in south eastern United States

Interesting Facts

  • Alligators have 74 to 80 teeth in their mouth at a time. As teeth wear down or are lost, they are replaced. An alligator may go through 2,000 to 3,000 teeth in a lifetime.
  • In 1967, the American alligator was placed on the endangered species list as the result of over hunting and habitat loss. After conservation efforts, their population was declared recovered in 1987.
  • Unlike many reptiles, alligators provide parental care to their young. The mother will fiercely protect her nest from intruders. Once the eggs hatch, she moves the hatchlings to a safe area and continues to protect them for a few months.
  • Alligators do not have vocal cords, but males can bellow by pushing air out of their lungs. This noise is used to attract a mate.

Conservation Status

Least Concern

Despite succesful conservation efforts and an IUCN status of Least Concern, American alligators are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. This is due to their similar appearance to the endangered American crocodile.

Threats

 Threats to this species include climate change, pollution, hunting, and loss of habitat.