American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)

Alligators have been around longer than dinosaurs, around 65 million years! During this time they’ve remained virtually unchanged. They are built for stealth and strength in the water but can move amazingly fast on land as well. Their eyes, ears and nostrils are on top of a long flat head, enabling them to see, hear and breathe while most of their body is submerged in water. They bite down with 2000 pounds of pressure with a mouth that contains 65 teeth. These teeth are so important to a gator's survival, they can continually be replaced if an alligator loses one.

Description: 

Although only 6 to 10 inches at hatching, these very large reptiles grow continuously throughout their whole lives reaching lengths of thirteen to twenty feet and weights from 400 to 2000 pounds.

Habitat: 

Swamps, bayous, rivers, lakes, canals...even golf course ponds!

Range: 

Southeastern United States from coastal North Carolina south through the Florida Keys and west to Texas.

Diet: 

Insects, frogs, fish, turtles and mammals.

Life Span: 

Up to 50 years or more for typical American alligators.

Family Life: 

Female alligators lay 25 to 60 eggs in a nest of damp vegetation and mud. Mom protects the nest from predators for two to three months until the babies hatch. She will often watch over them after hatching even though they live and hunt on their own. Dad and other alligators are solitary {they live alone). They will eat any creature they can overpower...including other alligators!

Status: 

Formerly an Endangered Species, more than one million adult alligators live in the wild today. A conservation success story!