American Alligator Alligators

About American Alligator crocodiles & alligatorsAbout American Alligators

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American Alligator
American Alligator

Alligators are a relative to crocodiles and are native only to North America. They are raised for their meat and skin, which is used to make leather products such as shoes, handbags, and belts. Alligators are a regulated species in the United States, and alligator farming is strictly controlled by the government to ensure sustainable populations. Alligator farms are common in southern states such as Louisiana, Florida, and Texas, where alligators are bred and raised in captivity. The meat of farmed alligators is considered a delicacy in some cultures, and the demand for alligator leather products continues to grow globally.

Alligators, like other crocodilians, are large animals with powerful tails that are used both in defense and in swimming. Their eyes, ears, and nostrils are placed on top of their long heads and project slightly above the water when the reptiles float at the surface, as they often do. Alligators can be differentiated from true crocodiles by the form of their jaw and teeth. Alligators possess a broad U-shaped snout and have an “overbite”; that is, all the teeth of the lower jaw fit within (are lingual to) the teeth of the upper jaw. The large fourth tooth on each side of the alligator’s lower jaw fits into a socket in the upper jaw. Usually, no lower teeth are visible when the mouth is closed. In contrast, true crocodiles have a narrow V-shaped snout, and the large fourth tooth on each side of the lower jaw projects outside the snout when the mouth is closed.

Alligators are carnivorous and live along the edges of permanent bodies of water, such as lakes, swamps, and rivers. They commonly dig burrows in which they rest and avoid weather extremes. The average lifespan of alligators is about 50 years in the wild. However, there have been reports of some specimens living beyond 70 years of age in captivity.

They are black with yellow banding when they are young and are generally brownish as adults. Their maximum length is about 5.8 meters (19 feet), but most often they range from about 1.8 to 3.7 meters (6 to 12 feet) long.

Adult alligators feed mainly on fish, small mammals, and birds but may sometimes take prey as large as deer or cattle. Members of both sexes hiss, and the males also give loud roars that carry over considerable distances. During the breeding season, the female builds a mound nest of detritus and vegetation in which she buries about 20 to 70 hard-shelled eggs. She guards the eggs and may at this time be dangerous.

Alligators have a reputation of being ferrous and deadly but they usually avoid humans.