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American Alligator Alligator mississippiensis


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American Alligator
credit: Postdlf/CCSA

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Family: Alligatoridae, Alligators view all from this family

Description Biggest North American reptile. Rounded snout. Black/brown with cream/yellowish crossbands across back. Fades with age. Has a socket in upper jaw that fits 4th tooth from bottom jaw.

Dimensions 1.8-5.84m. (6'-19'2")

Warning Alligators are carnivores that feed on fish and other large water animals and also stalk prey onshore near water. All alligators should be considered dangerous, even those basking in the sun. They can attack with amazing suddenness and have very sharp, grasping teeth and powerfully strong jaws.

Voice Makes a roar during mating season. Young have a y-eonk call when hatched.

Breeding April-May. Round nest, 5-7' in diameter, made of mud, leaves and other organic material. Eggs laid in a cavity near nest, 25-60 in a clutch. Call when hatched and female digs them out. Hatchlings stay with female for 3 years.

Habitat Marshes, ponds, bogs, lakes, rivers and swamps.

Range North Carolina to Florida Keys. Also coastal Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

Discussion When in a drought they dig holes for water. This is important for them as well as the general ecology of their habitat. Hibernates in winter. Fish, mammals, birds, small reptiles and amphibians form their diet. Protective of young. Protected due to severely reduced numbers.