Where to see them
World of Reptiles and Wonderful Wetlands
- Webbed feet aid in swimming and in locomotion through muddy habitats, while large, powerful tails propel the animals effectively through water.
- While they do not hibernate, alligators enter a dormant state during colder months, resurfacing from hollows or burrows when temperatures return to warmer levels.
- Alligators are highly vocal, and communication begins in the egg! Hatchlings vocalize to alert their mothers that they are preparing to hatch.
Adult males can reach 13 to 15 feet; females are smaller, reaching lengths of about 10 feet. While rare, significantly larger alligators have been documented at up to 20 feet.
Coastal U.S., Florida to North Carolina and as far west as Texas
Lakes, ponds, rivers, coastal wetlands
Alligators hunt mostly in the water and near the water’s edge. Smaller meals are swallowed whole, while larger prey is pulled underwater to drown.
Alligators are carnivores, feeding primarily on fish, reptiles, amphibians and small mammals.
Territorial males construct enlarged areas of water (gator holes) that they defend and use for breeding grounds. Females initiate breeding, typically in late spring, and defend their hatchlings for about two months. Easily distinguished by yellow stripes on their tails, hatchlings develop rapidly, growing approximately one foot for every year of their first few years.
Some of My Neighbors (IN THE WILD)
Fish, turtles, otters, raccoons
Population Status & Threats
Because of overharvesting for skin and meat, American alligators were once considered an endangered species. The species has made a comeback since the late 1980s and is no longer considered endangered, but habitat destruction continues to present a threat. As more and more wetlands habitat is converted for human use, people and alligators may come into contact more frequently. It is important to remember that these animals are inherently shy and prefer to avoid contact with humans.