Alligators In America: Everything You Need To Know About Them

Last Updated on September 14, 2023 by Amin Tawar

Alligators In America

Looking at their body, you wouldn’t imagine these creatures climbing trees or fences and that too at ease. They have armored skin around their body embedded with bony plates. Guessed it? Yes, we are talking about the American alligators.

Unlike their cousins, the American crocodile, American alligators are not endangered and in actuality are designated as least concern. This may be so, but wildlife agencies need to monitor alligator population, distribution frequently and they do so in reality too. 

As a resident of the country, it is pertinent that we know about the wildlife found and spread awareness of these creatures as we go about our life. Don’t worry, I’ve explained everything you need to know about the alligators in America.

Are There Alligators in America?

Yes, there is a thriving alligator population in America. Although you may confuse them with crocodiles which belong to the same species, there are few differences among them especially the teeth structure that you could easily spot. 

There are only a handful of creatures who have been roaming the earth without being evolved in the last million years. And alligator is one of them. This is why they are often described as “living fossils” and are believed to have lived even along with dinosaurs.

How Many Alligators in America?

The alligator population like any other wildlife is ever-changing and largely depends on many factors. But as per each state’s Natural Resources Department and Wildlife & Fish Departments, there are roughly 5,000,000 alligator individuals living in the country. And out of this about 1.25 million of these creatures are found in Florida. No wonder the state designated these creatures as the official state reptile in 1987.

Where Do Alligators Live in the USA?

Alligators, in general, prefer to live in slow-moving rivers, and freshwaters and sometimes can be found in lakes, marshes, and swamps. These creatures are also found in regions with temperate climates. They typically occupy the coastal wetlands in the southeast part of the country and their range goes from North Carolina to the Rio Grande in Texas. 

Did you know, alligators are one of the few animals including humans to be capable to live both on land and water? Yes, in fact, they are great swimmers but are clumsy when moving inland.

Are Alligators Only in America?

Alligators In America

America and China are not only great superpowers but both host the only two species of alligators to exist currently. The extant species A. mississippiensis is the American alligator found throughout the country and A. sinensis is the alligator found throughout China. Although there were many other species of alligators in the world as pointed out by fossil remains, none exist now.

The two species are quite different and not the same. Chinese alligators are smaller, have a much more robust head, have a slightly upturned snout, and are much more docile than their American counterparts. 

One fun fact is that like the Chinese population, Alligators from China too have longer lifespans than the American alligators. Some Chinese alligators even live till 70 years in captivity compared to the 50 years lifespan of American alligators.

Biggest Alligators in America?

Alligators by themselves are of the largest species to be found in North America. And these creatures continue to grow throughout their life which goes on for at least 50 years… With that lifespan and their typical carnivore’s diet, these creatures tend to grow to 15 feet to. 

Just for comparison, these creatures typically measure anywhere between 8.2 to 11.2 feet weighing even 1000 pounds. The male alligators are larger than female alligators, a similarity between most animals in the wild. 

There have been a number of large alligators recorded in the country but the largest of them all was the one caught in Louisiana in 1980. Though accuracy of its measurement is often debated, it measured a massive 19 feet in length.

Another prominent large alligator kill is the Alabama alligator also called as the “Stokes Alligator.” He was a massive male alligator weighing 1011 pounds and measuring 15 feet and 9 inches long. It was caught in 2014 during the hunting season of that year and still holds the title of being the largest ever legally killed alligator in Alabama.

How Dangerous Are American Alligators?

American alligators are dangerous as they come and should never be taken lightly, especially in their natural habitats. Although they rarely kill or eat to attack, they often attack to drive you away. This is more so if you are an adult. The death toll from alligators is roughly about 1 per year which is less but still dangerous.

They typically exhibit aggressive behavior when threatened or provoked which is the same as that of other wild animals. Just go through their size in the previous sections. 

These creatures are enormous and have strong jaws and teeth that can easily cut through human tissue. And don’t forget their ambush-hunting strategy. They hide under water surface and suddenly come up and launch surprising attack on prey. 

So, even for a second, don’t underestimate these creatures and think you could take on one in a life-threatening situation. Always exercise caution, follow the precautions set up by local agencies and respect these creatures.

Do Alligators Live in South America?

No, Alligators do not live in South America. The present two extant species of alligators in the new world only exist in North America and China. But their relatives and cousins do exist. 

The American crocodile found in Florida also exists in coastal regions of Ecuador, Venezuela, and Columbia. In fact, Florida is the northern most part of their range. Also, spectacle caiman and black caiman are two other creatures that have similar physical features and are closely related to American alligators.

What Do American Alligators Eat?

Alligators by nature are carnivores and their diet typically consists of everything that roams the land as well as swims in the water. Frogs, birds, fish, and other invertebrates are the common food-source for these creatures in the wild. In captivity they are fed with rats and rabbits. And before you specifically ask, alligators don’t eat humans. They may attack you but mostly to shoo you away.

Their physical features like a strong jaw that can even crack a turtle shell, sharp teeth, and large bodies help them seize, hold the prey, bite them, and spin them to easily swallow them. For smaller animals, it is a quicker death as these creatures directly swallow them.

Alligator Population in US by States.

The alligator population varies by state and depends largely on the availability of food sources, freshwater habitat, and a temperate climate. The largest populations are found in Louisiana, Florida, Texas, Georgia, and South Carolina all with estimates reaching more than 100,000 with Louisiana hosting the largest number approximately 2 million. Other states with substantial alligator populations include Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Oklahoma.

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And that was everything you need to know about the Alligators In America. I hope this article answered all your queries.

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