Thanks to Conservation Efforts, Alligators Came Back From the Brink of Extinction
by Riana Walls, age 12
American alligators are the largest reptiles in North America. Their habitat consists of rivers, lakes, ponds, swamps, marshes and bayous in the southeastern United States. Alligators eat fish, turtles, snakes, and small mammals.
An average size male American Alligator is 10 to 15 feet long and weighs 500 to 600 pounds; females are typically smaller than males. Their strong tail, which helps them swim, makes up about half of their body weight.
Mother alligators are very gentle with their young. They lay their eggs on shore and guard them until the eggs are ready to hatch. After the young hatch, the mother carries them into the water. Young alligators are only about six to eight inches long and are to be protected by their mother from predators, such as raccoons, bobcats, birds and even other alligators. They stay with their mothers for at least two years and then are able to fend for themselves.
American alligators were on the verge of extinction and were placed on the endangered species list in 1967 by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. The legal protection worked and the American Alligator was removed from the list in just 20 years.
Today, there are more than one million alligators in the wild. Currently, habitat destruction is the main threat to alligators, such as human activities like draining and developing wetlands.