The American Alligator is the largest reptile in North America with males growing averagely 4.6 meters and the females 3 meters. They have a broad head and muscular flat tail and their tough hide is like armor. Their tails make up half of their body length, helping them to move through the water. However, although they are swift swimmers they are rather slow on land.
The alligator is mainly a carnivore but surprisingly it was found in 2013 that they also eat fruit. This was proved by observations and by examining their abdomen contents. They usually hunt prey smaller than them so that they can be easily swallowed whole, however if the prey is big then it is shaken apart so it can be eaten more comfortably. When hunting land animals they usually linger near the water’s edge to ambush and then pull their prey into the water.
When breeding the female builds the nest out of vegetation and the temperature of the nest determines the sex of the babies; higher temperatures develop males while lower temperatures develop females. When hatchlings emerge the mother quickly carries them into the water in its mouth. The mother is very protective of its young. Only about 20% of them survive while the rest become prey to birds and raccoons.
Adult alligators are also hunted by humans – usually for their skin and meat. Today a vast industry has sprung up where alligators are farmed for this sole purpose.
- American Alligator-Apex predator by Richard Kern
- The American Alligator by globalzoo (from Life in Cold Blood)
- American Alligator- Reproduction by Richard Kern
- Python vs Alligator 01 — Real Fight — Python attacks Alligator by ojatro
- Alligators and whales vs. humans – BBC