American Alligator

alligator mississippiensis

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.

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.

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Although alligators have become more common, they are still considered threatened and are protected by federal laws. Alligators rarely attack humans. Attacks are usually in defense of a nest or due to public feeding has caused them to lose their fear of people.

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Other American Alligator facts

Conservation Status
Not Threatened
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    Habitat – The American alligator inhabits freshwater wetlands, such as marshes and cypress swamps, in the southeastern US.

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    Alligators eat a wide variety of animals, including amphibians. birds, fish, invertebrates, mammals, snakes, & turtles.

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    Fun Fact

    Alligators are acutely sensitive to movements in water. Alligators use the attribute to communicate and to catch prey. This feature provides an enormous advantage to an animal that inhabits murky water.