American Alligators have an “armoured” body with a muscular flat tail. The skin on
the back is armoured with embedded bony plates called osteoderms or scutes.
They have four short legs, the front legs have five toes while the back legs have four
toes. American Alligators have a long snout with upward facing nostrils at the end
which lets them breathe while the rest of the body is underwater. The young can be
distinguished from adults by the bright yellow stripes on the tail, adults have dark
stripes on the tail.
Males average 3 to 4.6 metres in length and can weigh 453 kg. Females grow to a
maximum of about 3 metres.
Courtship starts in April, with mating occurring in mid April- early May. After mating,
the female builds a nest of vegetation. Late June and early July, the female lays 35
to 50 eggs. The eggs are then covered with the vegetation nest through the 65-day
incubation period. Towards the end of August, the young alligators begin to make
high-pitched noises from inside of the egg. This lets the mother know that it is time
to remove the nesting material. When the alligator hatches it measures about 15 to
20 cm in length.
Wild = 35-50 years
Captivity = 60-80 years
Did you know?
The sex of the juveniles is determined by the temperature of the nest: 33.8° C all are
male, below 30° C all are female, and temperatures in between will produce both
sexes. The largest American alligator ever reported was supposedly 19.8 ft (6 m)
long, although there are doubts about the claim.