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American alligator

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Title: American alligator  
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Subject: Alligatoridae, Florida, Crocodile, Predation, Fauna of the United States
Collection: Alligatoridae, Animal Mascots, Animals Described in 1802, Animals with Sequenced Genomes, Apex Predators, Articles Containing Video Clips, Cuisine of the Southern United States, Endangered Fauna of the United States, Endemic Fauna of the United States, Fauna of the Southeastern United States, Florida Culture, Louisiana Culture, Megafauna of North America, Mississippi Culture, Native American Cuisine of the Southeastern Woodlands, Pleistocene First Appearances, Reptiles of the United States, Symbols of Florida, Symbols of Louisiana, Symbols of Mississippi, Tool-Using Tetrapods
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American alligator

American alligator
Temporal range: Pleistocene - present
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Superorder: Crocodylomorpha
Order: Crocodilia
Family: Alligatoridae
Genus: Alligator
Species: A. mississippiensis
Binomial name
Alligator mississippiensis
(Daudin, 1802 [originally Crocodilus])
American Alligator range map
  • Crocodilus mississipiensis Daudin, 1802

The American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), sometimes referred to colloquially as a gator or common alligator, is a large crocodilian reptile endemic to the southeastern United States. It is one of two living species in the genus Alligator within the family Alligatoridae; it is larger than the other extant alligator species, the Chinese alligator. Adult male American alligators measure 3.4 to 4.6 m (11 to 15 ft) in length, and can weigh 453 kg (999 lb). Females are smaller, measuring around 3 m (9.8 ft). The American alligator inhabits freshwater wetlands, such as marshes and cypress swamps from Texas to North Carolina. It is distinguished from the sympatric American crocodile by its broader snout, with overlapping jaws and darker coloration, and is less tolerant of saltwater but more tolerant of cooler climates than the American crocodile, which is found only in tropical climates.

Alligators are

  • Crocodilian Online
  • Photo exhibit on alligators in Florida; from State Archives of Florida
  • Why the Gulf Coast needs more big alligators
  • U.S. Fishery and Wildlife Service – alligator bellows and hisses
  • American Alligator at (WikiPets)

External links


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  35. ^ Rice, Ken G.; Mazzotti, Frank (October 2005). "American Alligator Ecology and Monitoring for the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan" (PDF). University of Florida IFAS Extension. 
  36. ^ Campell, Mark R.; Mazzotti, Frank J. (2004). "Characterization of Natural and Artificial Alligator Holes" (PDF). Southeastern Naturalist 3 (4): 583–94.  
  37. ^ Harvey, Rebecca G.; Brandt, Laura A.; Mazzotti, Frank J. (October 2011). "The American Alligator: An Indicator Species for Everglades Restoration". University of Florida IFAS Extension. 
  38. ^ a b c Keddy, P.A., L. Gough, J.A. Nyman, T. McFalls, J. Carter and J. Siegrist (2009). Alligator hunters, pelt traders, and runaway consumption of Gulf coast marshes: A trophic cascade perspective on coastal wetland losses. pp. 115–133 in B.R. Silliman, E.D. Grosholz, and M.D. Bertness (eds.) Human Impacts on Salt Marshes. A Global Perspective. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA ISBN 0520258924 Google Books
  39. ^ Keddy, P.A. 2010. Wetland Ecology: Principles and Conservation (2nd edition). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK ISBN 0521783674.
  40. ^ White, C.; Frederick, P.; Main, M.; Rodgers, J. (May 2005). "Nesting Island Creation for Wading Birds" (PDF). University of Florida IFAS Extension. 
  41. ^ Dinets, Vladimir; Britton, Adam; Shirley, Matthew (2013). "Climbing behaviour in extant crocodilians". Herpetology Notes 7: 3–7.  (published online January 25, 2014)
  42. ^ Dinets, V. L. (2011). "On terrestrial hunting in crocodilians" (PDF). Herpetological Bulletin 114: 15–18. 
  43. ^ WEC203/UW230: Living with Alligators: A Florida Reality. Retrieved on 2012-08-21.
  44. ^ a b "American Alligator". News Daily. 
  45. ^ "Gator eats bobcat". Flickr. Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  46. ^ "Sneaky alligator nearly eats bobcat". Kens5. Retrieved June 1, 2012. 
  47. ^ Sivlerstein, Alvin (1997). The Florida Panther. Brooksville, Connecticut: Millbrook Press. pp. 41+. ISBN 0-7613-0049-X.
  48. ^ "Alligators". Aquatic Community. 
  49. ^ "Key West Florida Attractions | Alligator Exhibit". Key West Aquarium. Retrieved 2012-12-20. 
  50. ^ Whitaker, John O. (1996). The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mammals. New York, pg. 808. ISBN 9-780679-446316.
  51. ^ Choi, Charles Q. (August 30, 2013). "Crocodiles and alligators like to chomp down on ... fruit !". NBC News: Science. Retrieved 2013-08-31. 
  52. ^ Platt, S.G; Elsey, R.M; Liu, H. (2013). "Frugivory and seed dispersal by crocodilians: an overlooked form of saurochory?". Journal of Zoology 291.  
  53. ^ Dinets, V; Brueggen, JC; Brueggen, J.D. (2013). "Crocodilians use tools for hunting". Ethology, Ecology and Evolution 1.  
  54. ^ "Crocodiles are cleverer than previously thought: Some crocodiles use lures to hunt their prey". ScienceDaily. December 4, 2013. Retrieved December 8, 2013. 
  55. ^ Britton, Adam. "Crocodile Talk". University of Bristol and Florida Museum of Natural History. 
  56. ^ Garrick, L. D.; Lang, J. W. (1977). "Social Displays of the American Alligator". American Zoologist 17: 225–239. 
  57. ^ Garrick, L.; Lang, J.; Herzog, H. (1978). "Social Signals of Adult American Alligators" 60 (3). pp. 153–192. 
  58. ^ Kilnkenberg, Jeff (21 June 2013). "Alligators in B Flat? Gatorland's denizens roar in ecstasy". Tampa Bay Times. 
  59. ^ Dinets, V. L. (2010). "Nocturnal behavior of the American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) in the wild during the mating season". Herpetological Bulletin 111: 4–11. 
  60. ^ Joanen, T.; Ferguson, M. W. J. (1982). "Temperature of egg incubation determines sex in Alligator mississippiensis". Nature 296 (5860): 850–53.  
  61. ^ a b Hunt, R. H; Watanabe, M. E. (1982). "Observations on the maternal behavior of the American alligator, Alligator mississippiensis". Journal of Herpetology 16 (3): 235–39.  
  62. ^ Gator-guzzling python comes to messy end. Associated Press (2005-10-05). Retrieved 2008-03-11.
  63. ^ Butler, Rhett A. (2005-10-05) Python explodes after swallowing 6-foot alligator in Florida Everglades. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
  64. ^ United States Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey (2008-02-20). USGS Maps Show Potential Non-Native Python Habitat Along Three U.S. Coasts. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
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  66. ^ Crocodile and Alligator Differences – Animal Facts for Kids. (2012-07-11). Retrieved on 2012-08-21.
  67. ^ Harding, Brett E.; Wolf, Barbara C. (2006). "Alligator Attacks in Southwest Florida". Journal of Forensic Sciences 51 (3): 674–677.  
  68. ^ Living with Alligators,
  69. ^ "A String of Deaths by Gators in Florida". 2006-05-15. Retrieved 2006-05-15. 
  70. ^ "Alligator wrestling - cruelty or tradition?". BBC March 17, 2009. Retrieved August 29, 2012. 
  71. ^ Lane, Thomas J.; Ruppert, Kathleen C. (June 2008). "Alternative Opportunities for Small Farms:Alligator Production Review". University of Florida. Retrieved August 29, 2012. 
  72. ^ Reig Eimeric (2006). "Gator Maters: Florida farmers find lucrative business mating alligators". Orange and Blue Magazine. Retrieved August 29, 2012. 
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See also

The Gator Bowl is a college football game held in Jacksonville annually since 1946, with Gator Bowl Stadium hosting the event until the 1993 edition. The Gatornationals is a NHRA drag race held at the Gainesville Raceway in Gainesville since 1970.

"Gators" has been the nickname of the University of Florida's sports teams since 1911. In that year, a printer made a spur-of-the-moment decision to print an alligator emblem on a shipment of the school's football pennants. The mascot stuck, perhaps because the team captain's nickname was Gator.[76]

The American alligator is the official state reptile of Florida,[73] Louisiana,[74] and Mississippi.[75] Several organizations and products from Florida have been named after the animal.


Today, alligator farming is a large, growing industry in Georgia, Florida, Texas, and Louisiana. These states produce a combined annual total of some 45,000 alligator hides. Alligator hides bring good prices and hides in the 6 to 7-ft range have sold for $300 each.[71] The market for alligator meat is growing, and about 300,000 pounds (140,000 kg) of meat are produced annually.[72] According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, raw alligator meat contains roughly 200 Calories (840 kJ) per 3-oz (85-g) serving, of which 27 Calories (130 kJ) come from fat.

Alligator farming

Since the late 1880s, alligator wrestling has been a source of entertainment for some. Created by the Miccosukee and Seminole tribes prior to the arrival of Europeans, this tourism tradition continues to persist despite criticism from animal rights activists.[70]

Man wrestling alligator (illustration)

Alligator wrestling

As human populations increase, and as they build houses in low-lying areas or fish or hunt near water, incidents are inevitable where alligators threaten, or at least appear to threaten, human life. Since 1948, 275 documented attacks on humans in Florida (about five incidents per year) have been reported, of which at least 17 resulted in death.[68] Only nine fatal attacks occurred in the US throughout the 1970s–1990s, but alligators killed 12 people between 2001 and 2007. In May 2006, alligators killed three Floridians in less than a week.[69]

Alligators are capable of killing humans, but are generally wary enough not to see them as a potential prey. Mistaken identity leading to an attack is always possible, especially in or near cloudy waters. Alligators are often less aggressive towards humans than large crocodile species, a few of which (mainly the Nile and saltwater crocodile) may prey on humans with some regularity.[14][66] Alligator bites are serious injuries due to the reptile's sheer bite force and risk of infection. Even with medical treatment, an alligator bite may still result in a fatal infection.[67]

Defensive alligator with mouth open

Attacks on humans

Relationships with humans

Both the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and state wildlife agencies in the South contributed to the American alligator's recovery. Protection under the Endangered Species Act allowed the species to recuperate in many areas where it had been depleted. States began monitoring their alligator populations to ensure that they would continue to grow. In 1987, the USFWS removed the animal from the endangered species list, as it was considered to be fully recovered. The USFWS still regulates the legal trade in alligators and their products to protect still endangered crocodilians that may be passed off as alligators during trafficking.[65]

Historically, hunting and habitat loss have decimated alligator populations throughout their range, and whether the species would survive was in doubt. In 1967, the alligator was listed as an endangered species (under a law that was the precursor Endangered Species Act of 1973), since it was believed to be in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.[65]

Conservation status

Recently, a population of non-native Burmese pythons has become established in Everglades National Park. While events of predation by Burmese pythons on alligators and vice versa have been observed, no evidence of a net negative effect has been seen on alligator populations.[62][63][64]

Nutria were introduced into coastal marshes from South America in the mid-1900s, and their population has since exploded into the millions. They cause serious damage to coastal marshes and may dig burrows in levees. Hence, Louisiana has had a bounty to try to reduce nutria numbers. Large alligators, however, feed heavily on nutria, so alligators may not only control nutria populations in Louisiana, but also prevent them spreading east into the Everglades. Since hunting and trapping preferentially take the large alligators that are the most important in eating nutria, some changes in harvesting may be needed to capitalize on their ability to control nutria.[38]

Interactions with exotic species

The young are tiny replicas of adult alligators with a series of yellow bands around their bodies that serve as camouflage.[8] Hatchlings gather into pods and are guarded by their mother and keep in contact with her through vocalizations. Young alligators eat small fish, frogs, crayfish, and insects.[61] They are preyed on by large fish, birds, raccoons, and adult alligators.[8] Mother alligators eventually become more aggressive towards their young, which encourages them to disperse.[61] Young alligators grow 3–8 in (7.6–20.3 cm) a year and reach adulthood at 6 ft (1.8 m).[30] An alligator can live up to 50 years.

Young American alligator swimming, showing the distinctive yellow striping found on juveniles

The temperature at which alligator eggs develop determines their sex (see temperature-dependent sex determination). Those eggs which are hatched at a temperature of 34 °C (93 °F) or more become males, while those at a temperature of 30 °C (86 °F) or lower become female. The nests built on levees are warmer and thus produce males, while the cooler nests of wet marsh produce females.[60] The female remains near the nest throughout the 65-day incubation period, protecting it from intruders. When the young begin to hatch, the mother quickly digs them out and carries them to the water in her mouth,[8] as some other crocodilian species are known to do.

Nest and young in Florida

The breeding season begins in the spring. On spring nights, alligators gather in large numbers for group courtship, the so-called "alligator dances".[59] The female builds a nest of vegetation, sticks, leaves, and mud in a sheltered spot in or near the water. After she lays her 20 to 50 white eggs, about the size of a goose egg, she covers them with more vegetation, which heats as it decays, helping to keep the eggs warm. This differs from Nile crocodiles, which lay their eggs in pits.[33]


Crocodilians are the most vocal of all reptiles and have a variety of different calls depending on the age, size, and sex of the animal.[55] The American alligator can perform specific vocalizations to declare territory, signal distress, threaten competitors, and locate suitable mates. Juvenile alligators can perform a high-pitched hatchling call (a trait common to many crocodilian species' hatchling young) to alert their mothers when they are ready to emerge from the nest. Juveniles also make a distress call to alert their mothers if they are being threatened. Although alligators have no vocal cords, both males and females bellow loudly to attract mates and declare territory by sucking air into their lungs and blowing it out in intermittent, deep-toned roars. The bellowing of the American alligator is distinct from the loud roaring of most crocodilians, and is considered unique. Male alligators are known to use infrasound during mating bellows. Bellowing is performed in a "head oblique, tail arched" posture. Infrasonic waves from a bellowing male alligator can cause the surface of the water directly over and to either side of its back to literally "sprinkle" in what is commonly called the "water dance".[56] Large bellowing "choruses" of alligators during the breeding season are commonly initiated by females and perpetuated by males.[57] Observers of large bellowing choruses have noted they are often felt more than they are heard due to the intense infrasound emitted by males. Alligators bellow in B flat, and bellowing choruses can be induced by tuba players, sonic booms, and large aircraft.[58] In addition to bellowing, alligators can growl, hiss, or cough to threaten others and declare territory.

Alligator bellow, ogg/Vorbis format.

Alligator bellow, ogg/Vorbis format.

Alligator hiss ogg/Vorbis format.

Problems playing these files? See .


American alligators have been documented using lures to hunt prey such as birds.[53] This means they are among the first reptiles recorded to use tools. By balancing sticks and branches on their heads, American alligators are able to lure birds looking for suitable nesting material to kill and consume. This strategy, which is shared by the mugger crocodile, is particularly effective during the nesting season, in which birds are more likely to gather appropriate nesting materials.[54]

Tool use

In 2013, alligators and other crocodilians were reported to also eat fruit.[51] Such behavior has been witnessed, as well as documented from stomach contents, with the alligators eating such fruit as wild grapes, elderberries, and citrus fruits directly from the trees. The discovery of this unexpected part of the alligator diet further reveals that alligators may be responsible for spreading seeds from the fruit it digests across its habitat.[52]

Alligators often eat prey that would seem unusual for a crocodilian. Alligators rarely prey on adult deer, but will do so when fish and smaller prey levels go down.[44] Rarely, alligators have been observed killing and eating bobcats, but such events are uncommon and have little effect on bobcat populations.[45][46] Alligator predation on Florida panthers is rare, but has been documented. Such incidents usually involve a panther trying to cross a waterway or coming down to a swamp or river to get a drink. The American alligator is the only known natural predator of the panther.[47] Alligator predation on black bears has also been recorded, although it is unknown if the bears taken were adults, as adult bears are powerful enough to successfully fend off an alligator attack.[44][48][49] Although alligators have been listed as predators of manatees, very little evidence exists of such predation, even on calves.[50]

Fish and other aquatic prey taken in the water or at the water's edge form the major part of alligator's diet and may be eaten at any time of the day or night. Adult alligators also spend considerable time hunting on land, up to 50 m (170 ft) from water, ambushing terrestrial animals on trailsides and road shoulders. Usually, terrestrial hunting occurs on nights with warm temperatures.[42] When hunting terrestrial prey, alligators may also ambush them from the edge of the water by grabbing them and pulling the prey into the water, the preferred method of predation of larger crocodiles.[13] The teeth of the alligator are designed to grip prey, but can not rip or chew flesh like teeth of some other predators (such as canids and felids). The alligator is capable of biting though a turtle's shell or a moderately sized mammal bone.[43]

Other animals may occasionally be eaten, even large deer or feral wild boars, but these are not normally part of the diet. Occasionally, domestic animals, including dogs, cats, and calves, are taken as available, but are secondary to wild and feral prey.[8] Water birds, such as herons and egrets, storks, and waterfowl, are taken when possible. Occasionally, unwary adult birds are grabbed and eaten by alligators, but most predation on bird species occur with unsteady fledgling birds in late summer as the prey of alligators, as fledgling birds attempt to make their first flights near the water's edge. Other prey, including snakes, lizards, and various invertebrates, are eaten occasionally by adults.[13]

American Alligator eating crab, South Carolina

The American alligator is considered an apex predator throughout its range. They are opportunists and their diet is determined largely by both the size and age of the alligator and the size and availability of prey. Most alligators will eat a wide variety of animals, including invertebrates, fish, birds, turtles, snakes, amphibians, and mammals. Hatchlings mostly feed on invertebrates such as insects, insect larvae, snails, spiders, and worms. As they grow, alligators gradually move on to larger prey. Once an alligator reaches adulthood, any animal living in the water or coming to the water to drink is potential prey, due to the size and power of the alligator. However, most animals captured by alligators are considerably smaller than the alligator itself.[8] Stomach contents show, among native mammals, muskrats and raccoons are some of the most commonly eaten species. In Louisiana, where introduced nutria are common, they are perhaps the most regular prey for adult alligators, although only larger adult alligators commonly eat this species.[38]

Hunting and diet

Alligators play an important role in the restoration of the Everglades as biological indicators of restoration success.[37] Alligators are highly sensitive to changes in the hydrology, salinity, and productivity of their ecosystems; all are factors that are expected to change with Everglades restoration. Alligators also may control the long-term vegetation dynamics in wetlands by reducing the population of small mammals, particularly nutria, which may otherwise overgraze marsh vegetation.[38] In this way, the vital ecological service they provide may be important in reducing rates of coastal wetland losses in Louisiana.[39] They may provide a protection service for water birds nesting on islands in freshwater wetlands. Alligators prevent predatory mammals from reaching island-based rookeries and in return eat spilled food and birds that fall from their nests. Wading birds appear to be attracted to areas with alligators and have been known to nest at heavily trafficked tourist attractions with large numbers of alligators, such as the St. Augustine Alligator Farm in St. Augustine, Florida.[40] In addition to basking on shore, American alligators can and will climb trees to bask in if no shoreline is available. However, this is not often seen as the alligators will retreat back into the water by jumping from their perch.[41]

[36] depressions of ridge and slough wetlands are more variable.peat and rocky glades are usually small and shallow, and those in marl prairies swamps, alligator holes tend to be large and deep, while those in cypress In the limestone depressions of [35] Alligators modify wetland habitats, most dramatically in flat areas such as the Everglades, by constructing small ponds known as alligator holes. This behavior has qualified the American alligator to be considered a

An alligator preying on a bullfrog

Ecology and behavior

American alligators are less vulnerable to cold than American crocodiles. Unlike the crocodile, which would immediately succumb to the cold and drown in water of 45 °F (7.2 °C), an alligator can survive in such temperatures for some time without any signs of discomfort.[33] This adaptiveness is thought to be the reason why American alligators spread farther north than the American crocodile.[33] In fact, the American alligator is found farther from the equator and is more equipped to deal with cooler conditions than any other crocodilian.[34] When the water begins to freeze, alligators stick their snouts though the surface which allows them to breathe above the ice.[30]

American alligators are found in the wild in the Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma. They inhabit swamps, streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes. Females and juveniles are also found in Carolina Bays and other seasonal wetlands. While they prefer fresh water, alligators sometimes enter brackish water,[30] but they are less tolerant of salt water than crocodiles, as the salt glands on their tongues do not function.[31] One study of alligators in north-central Florida found the males preferred open lake water during the spring, while females used both swampy and open water areas. During summer, males still preferred open water, while females stuck to the swamps to construct their nests and lay their eggs. Both sexes may den underneath banks or clumps of trees during the winter.[32]

Blue Hole, on Big Pine Key, Florida

Distribution and habitat

When on land, the alligator moves either by sprawling or walking, the latter involving the reptile lifting its belly off the ground. The sprawling of alligators and other crocodilians is not identical to the sprawling of salamanders and lizards, being similar to walking. Thus, the two forms of territorial locomotion can be termed the "low walk" and the "high walk". Unlike most other land vertebrates, alligators increase their speed through the distal rather than proximal ends of their limbs.[24] In the water, alligators swim like fish; moving their pelvic regions and tails from side to side.[25] American alligators held the record as having the strongest laboratory-measured bite of any living animal, measured at up to 9,452 newtons (2,125 lbf). It should be noted that this experiment had not been, at the time of the paper published, replicated in any other crocodilians, and the same laboratory was able to measure a greater bite force in saltwater crocodiles;[26][27] notwithstanding this very high biting force, the muscles opening the alligator's jaw are quite weak, and the jaws can be held closed by hand or tape when an alligator is captured. During respiration, air flow is unidirectional, looping through the lungs during inhalation and exhalation;[28] the alligator's abdominal muscles can alter the position of the lungs within the torso, thus shifting the center of buoyancy, which allows the alligator to dive, rise, and roll within the water.[29]


[23]In Arkansas a man killed an alligator that was 4.03 m (13.2 ft) and 626 kg (1,380 lb).
X-ray video of a female American alligator showing contraction of the lungs while breathing

However, American alligators do not normally reach such extreme sizes. In mature males, size averages around 3.4 m (11 ft) in length, weighing slightly in excess of 227 kg (500 lb), while in smaller females, the mature size averages 2.6 m (8.5 ft), weighing slightly more than 91 kg (201 lb).[17][18] While noticeably sexual dimorphic in size, the sexual dimorphism of this species is relatively modest amongst crocodilians.[19] In the saltwater crocodile, for example, the females are only slightly larger at average (2.8 m (9.2 ft) in the crocodile, 2.6 m (8.5 ft) in the alligator) than female American alligators, but the mature males, at 4.3 to 5.2 m (14 to 17 ft) on average as opposed to 2.7 to 4 m (8.9 to 13.1 ft) expected in mature male alligators, are considerably bigger than male American alligators and at median are nearly twice as long as and at least four times as heavy as the female crocodiles of the same species.[20] Given that female alligators have relatively higher survival rates at an early age and a large percentage of given populations are comprised by immature or young breeding alligators, relatively few large mature males of the expected length of 3.4 m (11 ft) or more are typically seen.[21] Weight varies considerably depending on length, age, health, season and available food sources. Similar to many other reptiles than range expansively into temperate zones, American alligators from the northern end of their range, such as southern Arkansas, Alabama, and northern North Carolina, tend to grow to smaller sizes. The largest alligator caught in Alabama was 4.5 m (15 ft) in length, weighing 459 kg (1,012 lb). [22]

The American alligator is a fairly large species of crocodilian. As in all crocodilians, as opposed to many mammals where size eventually dimishes with old age, healthy alligators continue to grow throughout their lives and the oldest specimens are the largest. Very old, large male alligators reach an expected maximum size of 4.6 m (15 ft) in length, weighing up to 453 kg (999 lb), while females grow to a maximum of 3 m (9.8 ft).[11][12] On rare occasions, a large, old male may grow to an even greater length.[13][14] During the 19th and 20th centuries, larger males reaching 5 to 6 m (16 to 20 ft) have been reported.[8] The largest reported individual size was a male killed in 1890 on Marsh Island, Louisiana, and reportedly measured at 5.8 m (19 ft) in length, but no voucher specimen was available, since the alligator was left on a muddy bank after having been measured due to having been too massive to relocate.[14] If the size of this animal were correct, it would have weighed around 1,000 kg (2,200 lb). The largest alligator shot in Florida was 5.31 m (17.4 ft), as reported by the Everglades National Park.[15][16]


Some alligators are missing an inhibited gene for melanin, which makes them albino. These alligators are extremely rare and almost impossible to find in the wild. They could survive only in captivity, as they are very vulnerable to the sun and predators.[10]

Wild alligators range from long and slender to short and robust, possibly due to variations in factors such as growth rate, diet, and climate. Alligators have broad snouts, especially in captive individuals. When the jaws are closed, the edges of the upper jaws cover the lower teeth which fit into the jaws' depressions. Like the spectacled caiman, this species has a bony nasal ridge, though it is less prominent.[8] The teeth number from 74–80.[8] Dorsally, adult alligators may be olive, brown, gray, or black in color, while their undersides are cream-colored.[9]

The snout of an American alligator
Alligator skull


Members of this superfamily first arose in the late Cretaceous. Leidyosuchus of Alberta is the earliest known genus. Fossil alligatoroids have been found throughout Eurasia as land bridges across both the North Atlantic and the Bering Strait have connected North America to Eurasia during the Cretaceous, Paleogene, and Neogene periods. Alligators and caimans split in North America during the late Cretaceous and the latter reached South America by the Paleogene, before the closure of the Isthmus of Panama during the Neogene period. The Chinese alligator likely descended from a lineage that crossed the Bering land bridge during the Neogene. The modern American alligator is well represented in the fossil record of the Pleistocene.[6] The alligator's full mitochondrial genome was sequenced in the 1990s and it suggests the animal evolved at a rate similar to mammals and greater than birds and other cold-blooded vertebrates.[7]

[5].gharial or the Nile crocodile includes all crocodilians (fossil and extant) that are more closely related to the American alligator than to either the Alligatoroidea. The superfamily caimans with the Alligatoridae. They are grouped in the family Chinese alligator the American alligator shares this genus with the [4] The American alligator was first classified by French zoologist

Taxonomy and phylogeny


  • Taxonomy and phylogeny 1
  • Characteristics 2
    • Size 2.1
    • Physiology 2.2
  • Distribution and habitat 3
  • Ecology and behavior 4
    • Hunting and diet 4.1
      • Tool use 4.1.1
    • Vocalizations 4.2
    • Reproduction 4.3
    • Interactions with exotic species 4.4
  • Conservation status 5
  • Relationships with humans 6
    • Attacks on humans 6.1
    • Alligator wrestling 6.2
    • Alligator farming 6.3
    • Symbol 6.4
  • See also 7
  • Notes 8
  • External links 9

The American alligator is listed as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Historically, hunting has decimated their population, and the American alligator was listed as an endangered species by the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Subsequent conservation efforts have allowed their numbers to increase and the species was removed from the list in 1987. Alligators are now harvested for their skins and meat. The species is the official state reptile of three states: Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

American alligator showing teeth, South Carolina

[3] 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.infrasound Male alligators use [2]

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