American Alligators

Alligator Mississippiensis

What is an American Alligator?

The American alligator is a reptile that was once on the verge of extinction. Amazingly, the species not only recovered from endangerment, but is now thriving. Their population today is past one million and still growing! These predators are approximately 10 to 15 feet long and can weigh up to 1,000 pounds. They are carnivores and will eat just about anything, even a human if they are hungry enough, though this is very rare. These large lizard-like creatures are strong and dangerous, but also interesting and even beautiful. The alligators are strong, consistent fighters that have been around for approximately 150 million years and will be around for many more to come.

What About Wetlands?

American alligators reside in freshwater, mainly the rivers, lakes, swamps, and marshes of the southeastern United States. Florida and Louisiana are the main states in which these reptiles can be found. These creatures, due to their large size and weight, are heavy and sluggish outside of the water. Because of this, they have adapted extremely well to swimming. Most of their diet comes from the wetlands they live in. This can include fish, turtles, and snakes. Sometimes, they prey upon small mammals. Alligators depend on the wetlands they live in, and they even help maintain them. They control numbers of certain animals that might negatively affect the amount of vegetation around the wetland. Their greatest help though is the holes they build at the bottom of wetlands...

"Gator Holes"

Alligators that live in marshes dig wide, muddy holes. These are sometimes known as "gator holes". To create them, the alligators first use their claws and mouths to clear all vegetation out of the way. They then thrash around their bodies and powerful tails to wallow out the depression. The holes are usually between three to five feet deep, but can be wide enough to hold up to three tractor-trailers. These holes stay full of water during the wet and dry seasons. During the dry seasons, they provide water for fish, insects, snakes, turtles, and many other animals. This way, thanks to the alligators, vital food chains are able to be maintained in the marsh. Without the American alligators, who knows what would happen to the wetlands they live in.

An Average-Sized American Alligator Compared to a Six-Foot Man:

Works Cited

Rodriguez, Ana Maria. "The Alligator's Super Sense." Highlights for Children. Nov 2011: 22-23. SIRS Discoverer. Web. 11 Apr 2013.


National Geographic Society, ed. National Geographic. National Geographic
Society, n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2013.
<http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/>.


"Alligator." Highlights for Children (Vol. 59, No. 10). Oct. 2004: 40. SIRS Discoverer. Web. 11 Apr 2013.


"American Alligator." American Alligator. Aug. 1 1991: n.p. SIRS Discoverer. Web. 12 Apr 2013.


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