Alligators are amazing creatures. They have been on Earth for millions of years. Some even walked with the dinosaurs! Here, we go over everything you need to know about alligators.
1. What is an Alligator?
An alligator is a large cold blooded reptile. There are two species of alligator: the American Alligator and the Chinese Alligator. Unless otherwise noted, these facts are relating to the American Alligator.
The average size for an American alligator is 13 feet long, with a weight of about 800 pounds. They can be larger or smaller, however. The longest recorded alligator was 19 feet. They have been known to weigh in closer to the 1000 pound mark than the 800 pound mark. Chinese alligators are smaller, averaging 6-7 feet in length.
Alligators are carnivores and only eat meat. Their diet ranges from small fish and worms all the way up to deer and turtles. It all depends on what they can catch!
4. Life Span
No one knows the natural life span of an alligator! The oldest alligator in captivity, Muja, lives in Germany. He is currently at least 76 years old; however, as there are no records of his birth, he could even be older. It is believed alligators live to be about 50 years old in the wild, although no one knows for sure.
5. Alligators vs. Crocodiles
Alligators and crocodiles look very similar. So how do you tell the difference? Alligators live in fresh water, whereas crocodiles prefer salt water. If the mouth is closed and you can still see teeth, you’re looking at a crocodile. Although alligator’s teeth still hang out, they are harder to see. The most distinctive feature, however, is in the snout. Alligators have a U shaped snout, whereas crocodiles have a pointer V shape.
6. Where do they live?
Alligators are only native to the United States and China. They live in many of the Southern states, including Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and others. They can be found in captivity all over the world, typically in zoos. They are typically found in fresh water. The Chinese alligator can only be found in the Yangtze River. The Chinese alligator is endangered, and not many live in the wild.
Alligators lay eggs, like all reptiles. They make nests for their young. A female can lay up to 50 eggs at a time. Most, if not all, babies born in a clutch (or set) will be the same sex. If the nest is warmer, it will produce male babies. If it is colder, female babies will be born. The mother guards the eggs and will watch over the babies for up to a year if they remain close to her.
Alligators tend to be solitary animals. While they may tolerate other alligators nearby, they do not enjoy them. While typically slow, they are capable of small bursts of speed which allow them to catch their prey. This means even if you see one sleeping and it doesn’t seem harmful, you should still avoid it. Although they usually do not attack humans, they will if they feel you are a threat, or you disturb their nests.
9. We eat alligators
Alligators are often raised in captivity in order to be eaten, just like cows are. Sometimes people fish for alligators, so even if it wasn’t raised on a farm it could end up on a dinner plate. We also use the skins to make purses, shoes, and other accessories.
Alligators have about 80 teeth in their mouths. This is almost 4 times as many as most humans! On top of having a high amount to start with, alligators regrow teeth they lose. Through an alligator’s life time, he may have over 2,000 teeth!