American Alligators have an “armoured” body with a muscular flat tail. The skin on the back is armored 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, this 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.
American Alligators are found from coastal North Carolina South to the Southern regions of Florida and the Keys, the range extensors to Central Texas in the west and extreme south eastern Oklahoma.
Wild = 35-50 years
Captivity = 60-80 years
Males average 3 to 4.6 metres in length and can weigh 453 kg. Females grow to a maximum of about 3 metres.
The majority of the diet consists of fish, turtles, snakes and small mammals while carrion and pets have occasionally been taken.
American Alligators are usually found in slow-moving rivers however they also occur in swamps, marshes and lakes.
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.
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