American Alligator


Alligator mississippiensis

Quick Facts


Found:  Southeast United States
Size:      8 to 10 feet long  (average)
Diet:      fish, reptiles, small mammals
Status:  Threatened due to similarity
                of appearance
Life Span:  40 to 50 years

The alligator has a more northern range than any of the crocodiles because it can tolerate colder conditions.  Contrary to what most people think, alligators are not green but black.  Babies have yellow stripes across their back to help them to camouflage into their grassy shoreline habitat.  The snout of an alligator is wide and rounded at the end, whereas the snout of a crocodile is narrow and pointed.  On the alligator, only the upper teeth show when the mouth is closed. On the crocodile, the fourth tooth on the lower jaw fits into a groove in its upper jaw and is visible even when the mouth is closed.  Alligators build a mound-shaped nest  composed of decaying vegetation, which emits the heat necessary to incubate the eggs. The gender of the alligators is determined by the nest temperature early in the incubation period (from 7th to 21st day). If the nest temperature is below 86 degrees, all hatchlings are female. Above 93 degrees, all hatchlings are males.  At temperatures in between there are both males and females, usually with a greater percentage of females.

Alligator   Alligator   Alligator