AMERICAN ALLIGATOR (alligator mississippiewsis)
American Alligator are easily confused with crocodiles. How are they different? The lower teeth of an American Alligator fit into pits in the upper jaw, so you usually cannot see them when the mouth of the American Alligator is closed. Some of a crocodile’s lower teeth are visible. Also, American Alligator have a broad snout, while crocodiles have a narrow snout.
Alligators rarely attack humans. When this occurs, it is usually in defense of a nest or because public feeding has caused them to lose their fear of people.
American Alligator were once very common throughout coastal areas of the southeastern U.S. In the early 1970’s, the American Alligator was declared a federally endangered species due to widespread hunting for hides. From 1930-1940, for example, over one million alligators were killed in Florida alone. Although alligators have become more common than they were, they are still considered threatened and are protected by federal laws.