American Alligator

Tags: alligator, carnivores, cold-blooded, predator, reptile

closeup of alligator with open mouth

Where do American alligators live?

There are only two species of alligators in the world. The American alligator lives in the southern United States and the other species, the Chinese alligator, lives in China. Alligators live in areas with warm temperatures and swampy fresh water environments. American alligators live south of an imaginary line that stretches from North Carolina to Texas. Many alligators live in the Everglade swamps of Florida.

What does an American alligator look like?

They have narrow bodies with four short legs, tough skin with scales, and a long tail. An American alligator can grow up to 15 feet long. Their tail is usually about half the length of their body. That means you could see an alligator with a 7 foot long tail! Also, alligators have large snouts and about 80 sharp teeth in their mouths. If a tooth falls out, the alligator regrows another one to replace it.

Alligators are reptiles, which have scaly skin, lay eggs to reproduce, and ectothermic. (Ectothermic means cold-blooded.) Cold-blooded animals do not create heat within their bodies to keep themselves warm. This means that an alligator’s body temperature is warmed or cooled by the air and water around it. This is one reason why alligators live in areas with warm weather.

What do they eat?

Alligators are carnivores, which means they eat meat. In order to find a place to hunt, they use their long and powerful tails to push themselves through the water. Then, an alligator will wait for a long time in the water with just its eyes, ears, and snout showing. When an animal comes close enough, the alligator may lunge towards it. Then the alligator snaps its powerful jaws around the animal and holds it underwater until it drowns.

Alligators will eat just about any animal they can catch. For example, they often eat fish, birds, raccoons, muskrats, and smaller animals. They have also been known to attack animals as large as deer, black bears, and panthers!

 

closeup of alligator with open mouth

An American alligator waits for food to come within striking distance. Image Source

alligator on land, sunning itself

One alligator is resting on shore. Do you see the other one in the water behind it? 

 

 

alligator in the water

An American alligator hunts in shallow water with only its eyes, the end of its snout, and its tail showing above water. Image Source

 

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