One of the fiercest reptiles on Earth, the American alligator is a large, semi-aquatic, armored creature closely related to crocodiles.
American alligators have magnificent body strength, much of which comes from their tails. Some scientists believe that this species even uses their tail to sweep other, smaller critters off of riverbanks and into water, but there is little evidence to support this hypothesis.
The American alligator inhabits fresh water wetlands including marshes and cypress swamps. In regions where winters are cold, these creatures build “gator holes” under the cozy banks of rivers and ponds, where they can stay for up to four months. When they are in these holes, they may freeze. However, as long as they have access to air, they will thaw and survive.
Male alligators can grow longer than 11 feet, while females only reach a length of up to seven feet. Adult alligators can weigh up to 496 pounds. These reptiles prey on many animals including fish, amphibians, birds, and other reptiles. They have a lifespan of up to 50 years.
An alligator’s body parts are highly specialized. Its eyes and nostrils are set high on its head so it can hunt, while most of its body remains underwater. When an alligator’s mouth is closed, its fearsome array of teeth cannot be seen. This makes it easy for the alligator to grab onto and gulp down unsuspecting prey.
Most American alligators are found in areas of southeastern states, like the Louisiana bayous, the Florida Everglades, and lower parts of the Mississippi River. If you are near these areas, watch out!
[Source: Snakes and Reptiles]