Common Name: American Alligator
Scientific Name: Alligator mississippiensis
Family: Alligatoridae = Alligator family
Locations: United States and Mexico
US Locations: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas
Size: 10 – 15 feet (3 – 4.5 meters)
The American Alligator is an iconic species of the southeastern United States. They live a long time, up to 50 years in the wild. Female alligators don’t grow as long as males, only reaching 10 feet long max. The alligators have an interesting way of surviving freezing temperatures. They stick the tip of their snout of the water so they can breed while keeping the rest of their body underwater. Then, they go into a state of brumation to preserve their energy. Also, the gators create massive tunnels to help them escape dangerous weather conditions.
Courtship begins in April with mating typically happening in May. The male bellows out for the females and to ward off other suitors. These bellows make the water on the back of the alligator “dance”. Mating takes place only in fresh water. The female lays her eggs in a nest she builds in late June or early July. The eggs take between 63 – 84 days to hatch. The babies break open their eggs and call out for the mom. Then, the mom digs out her babies and protects them from predators for a few years. Even with the mom’s protection, around 80% of the offspring dies from predation.
American Alligator Conservation
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List classifies the American Alligator as Least Concern for Extinction. This wasn’t always the case. The alligator was once on the Endangered Species List. People hunted the gators to the brink of extinction. Legal protections were in acted that saved the species. Now, alligators are numerous throughout their range. Thanks to proper wildlife management, people can hunt the gators once again.