Alligators are carnivorous reptiles that belong to the animal family Alligatoridae and are semi-aquatic in nature. These cold blooded animals are native only to two countries in the world - America and China. The American species dwell in fresh water environments like ponds, wetlands, rivers, marshes and brackish environments. The Chinese alligators, on the other hand, are extremely endangered and are found only in the Yangtze River in China. Although similar in appearance, alligators and crocodiles can be distinguished in that the former have a broad round snout and are found mostly in fresh water habitats. Crocodiles mostly prefer coastal and salt water habitats and have a narrow, tapered triangular snout. Read on to know some very interesting facts and amazing information on this unique species.
Facts About Alligators
Species: Two; P.trigonatus, P.palpebrosus
Length: Up to 14.5 feet (4.4 meters) long
Weight: 360 kg (800 pounds) to 468 kg (1032 pounds)
Age: 50 to 60 years (maximum recorded – 75 years)
Diet: Predators (feed on turtles, fishes, mammals, birds, snakes, other gators, carrion)
Age of Maturity: 10 to 12 years
Gestation Period: 60 to 75 days
Number of Offspring: 20 to 50
Interesting & Amazing Information On Alligators
- The term ‘alligator’ has been derived from the Spanish word ‘el lagarto’, which means the lizard.
- There are two species of true alligators found in the world. One is the American alligator and the other Chinese alligator. The latter is much smaller than its American cousin and grows up to a maximum of 7 feet in length
- Alligators are born with a hard piece of epidermis called ‘eye tooth’, which they use for breaking the egg upon hatching. This is located just at the tip of their nose and is absorbed within a few weeks after birth.
- Alligators have been in existence since pre-historic days and undergone very little change since then. They have continued to live and prosper throughout the ages.
- Alligators have been representing the official state reptile of Florida since the year 1987. They are also the mascot of the University of Florida, at Gainesville.
- Female alligators are very protective of their young ones and take care of them for the first two years after the eggs are hatched. This is because the young ones are very vulnerable during these two years and often fall prey to raccoons, snakes, wading birds and even other larger alligators. Once the young ones exceed a length of four feet, they are relatively safe from predators, but may still be vulnerable to cannibalism.
- Alligators have a total of 80 teeth, 40 on the top and 40 at the bottom. These teeth are replaced as soon as they get worn down. In its entire lifetime, an alligator can have 2000 to 3000 teeth.
- The conical teeth of alligators are used only for grabbing and holding, not cutting. Hence, they swallow their food whole.
- Alligators run at a speed of about 30 miles per hour, for a short distance.
- The sex of the babies of an alligator is determined by the temperature or heat of the nest. If the incubation temperature of the eggs is above 93°F, then males are produced. On the other hand, females are produced if the incubation temperature is below 86°F.
- Alligators are cold blooded and cannot make their own body heat. They gain body heat only by the process of sunbathing.
- Alligators have a third eyelid that protects their eyes underwater.