KIDS CLUB ANIMALS | AMERICAN ALLIGATOR

American Alligator at Lake Okeechobee

AMERICAN ALLIGATOR

The American Alligator, referred to by many as simply a gator, is a reptile found throughout the southeastern United States.  You are most likely to see an alligator in Florida and Louisiana where they live in swamps, rivers, lakes, ponds, marshes and bayous. 

On land alligators can scurry up to 10 miles per hour, but in the water they can swim up to speeds of 20 miles per hour!

Like most reptiles, alligators are cold-blooded meaning their body temperature changes as the temperature around them changes.  On a sunny day their body temperature will be warmer than on a cold day.  Alligators are very adaptable to their environment and have been living on Earth for millions of years.  

Other than the American Alligator, the only other species of alligator is the Chinese Alligator which is only found in eastern China. 

An average adult male alligator is often larger than an adult female alligator.  An adult male alligator can grow up to 15 feet in length and weigh nearly 1,000 pounds.  On the other hand, female alligators grow to about 10 feet in length.  Female alligators make nests on shore where they can lay and guard their eggs.  Once the eggs hatch, the mother alligator will gently carry her little ones to the water so they can learn to swim.

Alligators have a very strong bite with a lot of teeth.  They are aggressive predators and their diet changes as they grow larger and age.  When they are young and small, alligators will eat small prey like snails, spiders, frogs, and worms.  As they grow into adulthood, they will begin to feed on larger prey in the waters around them including muskrats, raccoons, fish, water birds, snakes, and ducks.  Their diet is often determined by the size and availability of prey. 

 

SCIENTIFIC NAME:  Alligator mississippiensis

HABITAT:  wetlands, marshes, swamps

RANGE: southeastern United States

CLASSIFICATION: reptile

DIET: carnivore

NICKNAMES: gator, common alligator

WORLD RECORD: 15 feet, 9 inches; 1,011.5 pounds

 

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