Florida alligator

Alligators are crocodilians and reptiles belonging to the genus Alligator in the family Alligatoridae. They are similar to crocodiles but have a calmer behaviour and rounder snouts. There are two species of alligator: one is the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) and the other is the critically endangered Chinese alligator (Alligator sinensi). The Chinese alligator is endemic to the Yangtze River valley and only a few dozens are believed to be left in the wild. There are breeding pairs in captivity and the survival of this species might rely on captive breeding programs.

The American alligator is found in south eastern USA. It can be found from eastern Texas to Florida. There are also reports about alligators from the Rio Grande and from within Mexico although these reports are as far as we know unconfirmed. The majority of alligators live in Florida and Louisiana and each of these states is home to over 1 million alligators.

The American alligator was once considered endangered but has made a remarkable recovery, partly due to the creation of alligator farms that can meet market demands for alligator products reducing the pressure on the wild population. Most of the eggs for these farms are collected in the wild but this too seems to have a beneficial effect on wild populations since it gives land owners an economic incentive to keep their land suitable for alligators. Alligators kept in the dark grow much faster than alligators exposed to light, a fact used by some farmers – especially when the alligators are young. Controlled alligator hunting is now allowed in Florida and elsewhere.

Large alligators are territorial with males being more so than females. Smaller alligators are more tolerant towards each other and large quantities of smaller alligators can often be seen near each other. Alligators are ambush predators and can due to being “cold blooded” go long periods without eating which means that they seldom needs to actively hunt. Young alligators eat fish, insects, crustaceans, worms and snails. As they grow larger they will start eating larger prey and adult alligators mainly feed on large fish such as gars, turtles and other reptiles, mammals and birds. They are the apex predator in their territory and adult alligators can even attack and eat panthers and black bears.

Alligators become sexually mature at around 180 cm / 6 ft and mate in early spring. Alligators lay eggs in mounds dug by the females. The female alligator guards the eggs and will protect her young for up to one year if they stay within her territory. She will also carry the baby alligators to the water. The sex of an alligator is decided by the temperature in the nest during the first three weeks. Incubation temperatures of 86 °F (30 °C) or lower produce a clutch of females while temperatures of 93 °F (34 °C) or higher produce entirely males. In nature there are usually five females born for each male. The number one threat to young alligators is other larger alligators and it is not unusual for 50% of all youngsters to fall prey to larger alligators during their first year.

Alligator Articles:

Florida Alligator
Florida Alligator Facts
Florida Alligator Habitat
Florida Alligator Hunting


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