Fun American Alligator Facts For Kids

Vineet Adnala
Feb 07, 2023 By Vineet Adnala
Originally Published on Aug 12, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Gowri Rao
Make sure to read these interesting American alligator facts.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.0 Min

Are you the kind of person who loves prehistoric animals like dinosaurs? Well if you do, you will surely love reading abound this behemoth of a creature who happens to be a direct descendent of prehistoric dinosaurs!

The American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) is a giant and scary creature which dominates most of swamps and freshwater wetlands of southeastern United States.

To read more interesting facts about cold blooded reptiles, be sure to check out black mamba facts or anaconda snake facts.

American Alligator Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a American alligator?

These reptiles, also know as Alligator mississippiensis, are members of the alligator family.

What class of animal does a American alligator belong to?

Like most other species of cold blooded creatures, American alligators belong to the animal class of Reptilia.

How many American alligators are there in the world?

There happens to be only two alligator species found across the world. The Alligator mississippiensis is one of these two species. It is estimated that the American alligator population size is almost 5 million and these alligators are spread across North America, out of which 1.25 million gators are found in southeastern states of America.

Where does a American alligator live?

The Alligator mississippiensis inhabits mostly freshwater bodies and cannot survive well in salt water bodies like seas or oceans. They are mostly found in water bodies all across the southern parts of the United States. These gators are mostly found living in North Carolina, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

What is a American alligator's habitat?

These cold blooded creatures love to swim in fresh water bodies and their habitat usually consists of places where they can feed easily and stay camouflaged in their environment. The American alligator habitat usually includes places like river swamps, ponds, lakes, and fresh water streams.

Who do American alligators live with?

Alligators are pretty social creatures and tend to live with other similar alligators to form a group called a congregation. These gator groups can be seen swimming in swamps or just staying motionless  until an unsuspecting animal approaches them.

When that happens, these monsters pounce on them, grab them by their extremely powerful jaws and make them their food within a few minutes! It is also seen that young alligators form a group of about 60-80 gators. This group is known as a pod.

However, not all of these young alligators survive in the wild and most of them become food to predators like the green heron or even big cats like the jaguar.

How long does a American alligator live?

The life span of an American alligator range as long as 80 years in captivity. In the wild however, it is seen that these alligators live no more than 30-50 years.

This may be because male adult alligators are quite territorial and prefer living in solidarity and when they see another male approaching their territory, they go all out to fight to try to kill it.

How do they reproduce?

The reproduction cycle of these alligators happens to be quite interesting. The breeding season usually commences during spring.

During this period, lots of male alligators gather together and produce lightly audible vibrations called bellowing which causes the water around them to vibrate. This entire process is called a water dance and male alligators do it in order to attract the females.

After the copulation takes place, female alligators build a nest using vegetation, mud, and small sticks in a place which is properly covered and out of reach of predators. These female alligators lay around 35-90 eggs and cover them with more vegetation and mud in order to provide proper heating and warmth for the eggs to develop.

Females then stay with the eggs and look after them for the entirety of the incubation period that lasts around two months. When the eggs are ready to hatch, the females make a yelping call and after the hatching finishes, the mother carries her young alligators by holding them in her mouth and takes them to the water body.

Males are not as involved as the females of this species when it comes to looking after the eggs or taking care of the young gators.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of these alligators was listed as Endangered in 1967 however, as of now, due to the various precautions that have been taken throughout the years by The United States Fish and Wildlife Service, this once endangered species is no longer under any threat and a large number of them are found all across America.

The IUCN has currently listed these animals as Least Concerned

American Alligator Fun Facts

What do  American alligators look like?

These alligators are large reptiles and possess the attribute of sexual dimorphism. Female alligators are much smaller than the ginormous males.

These monsters have a really broad snout. They also have overlapping jaws and the color of their skin is much darker compared to other gators. The skin exhibits shades of olive, brown, green, or gray.

These alligators are seen to have webbed feet, the front feet have five toes while their back feet only have four toes. They have really thick outer scales and their strong jaws hold a set of around 80 extremely strong conical teeth.

Learn more about reptiles while reading these interesting American alligator facts.

How cute are they?

Unless you happen to be a reptile enthusiast, chances are you may not find these terrifying creatures to be cute in any sort of way. However tiny baby gators are quite cute to see.

How do they communicate?

Alligators are much more vocal than most other reptile species and have the ability to modify the vocal fold in their larynx in order to produce high pitched yelps or even low frequency vibrations. They use these to communicate with other alligators.

Males produce these noises during the water dance phase of their breeding cycle in order to attract females. The vocalization of alligators depends on factors such as their size, sex, and age.

How big is a American alligator?

These alligators happen to be quite huge creatures. There have been various instances where people have wanted to see an American alligator vs American crocodile, however such a thing would seem quite unfair since the crocodile exceeds the gators length as it's a few feet longer compared to the gator.

On average, female gators can grow 8 ft 6 in (2.6 m) long and weigh around 200 lb (91 kg) while males grow around 11 ft 2 in (3.4 m) long and weigh around 790 lb (350kg).

How fast can a American alligator move?

These alligators can run at a speed of 35 mph (56 kph) on land but their webbed feet cannot usually hold their weight easily and so they can't keep running for long periods. As alligators have webbed feet which makes swimming easier, they can swim at a speed of around 20 mph (32 kph).

How much does a American alligator weigh?

Male alligators usually weigh around 790 lb (350kg) while the females usually weigh around 200 lb (91 kg). However there have been instance where gators weighing over 1000 lb (455 kg) have been found!

What are the male and female names of the species?

Female gators are referred to as cows while male gators are referred to as bulls.

What would you call a baby American alligator?

Baby alligators are often referred to as hatchlings.

What do they eat?

Alligators are apex predators and can eat almost anything. Their diet usually includes small mammals, fishes, other gators, or birds. In rare instances, these animals are seen eating much bigger prey such as lions or cheetahs.

Are they poisonous?

No, alligators are not poisonous by nature.

Would they make a good pet?

In some parts of the United States it is legal to own exotic animals as pets, however it is still strongly advised to not keep these animals as pets since they can be violent and won't hesitate making their owners their next meal.

Did you know...

If various efforts weren't taken by the people and if many of the animals laws weren't brought into existence, the Conservation status of these gators may have changed from Endangered to Extinct by now.

Are American alligators aggressive?

The American alligator species is quite territorial and becomes aggressive if someone intrudes its space. It is better if people just stay away from them. The loss of habitat may cause this species to become endangered again and this may agitate the gators and make them even more aggressive.

Are American crocodiles the same as American alligators?

The American alligator and American crocodile both belong to different species and can be differentiated on the basis of their physical appearance such as their size, color, and shape of their snout.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other reptiles from our Burmese python facts and Siamese crocodile facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by colouring in one of our free printable American alligator coloring pages.

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Written by Vineet Adnala

Bachelor of Engineering specializing in Computer Engineering

Vineet Adnala picture

Vineet AdnalaBachelor of Engineering specializing in Computer Engineering

Vineet has a Bachelor's degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Mumbai. With expertise in digital marketing, SEO, content creation, social media marketing, and content strategy. Vineet is also a talented painter and digital artist, with a passion for cooking, music, and football.

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Fact-checked by Gowri Rao

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

Gowri Rao picture

Gowri RaoBachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

With a bachelor's degree in Economics from Krea University, Gowri is a highly skilled data analyst and an expert in regression and causation modeling. Her interests in economic trends, finance, and investment research complement her professional expertise. In addition to her professional pursuits, Gowri enjoys swimming, running, and playing the drums, and she is also a talented tutor.

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