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Common Name: American Alligator

Scientific Name: Alligator mississippiensis


Kingdom: Animialia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Reptilia

Order: Crocodyila

Family: Alligatoridae

Genus: Alligator

Species: A. mississippiensis


The easiest way to distinguish an alligator from a crocodile is by looking at the teeth. The large fourth tooth in the lower jaw of an alligator fits into the bottom jaw and mesh together without showing the teeth when their mouths are closed. This does not happen with crocodiles. Alligators have between 74 and 80 teeth in their mouth at a time. As teeth wear down they are replaced. An alligator can go through 2,000 to 3,000 teeth in a lifetime.


Alligators are found in or near water. They are located commonly in swamps, rivers, bayous, and marshes. While typically found in fresh-water, they can be found in salt or oceanic waters as well.


At a young age small alligators primarily eat insects or anything else small and tasty. As they grow older their diet moves on to bigger prey such as birds, chickens or any other small rodents. At some times they even eat snakes and turtles. And alligators do not eat humans they just attack and bite.


A full-grown alligator can be as long as 16 feet. The average length of a full grown alligator is six to sixteen feet. They can weigh 300 to 1,000 pounds. When the alligators give birth they normally have 20-50 babies.


Did you know that American alligators can live 30-50 years. Alligators can also run as fast as 30 miles per hour. They may seem like they can’t run because they are so big, but they have a lot of muscles in their body.


Author: Will R

Published: 02/2007


Photo Credit: 21 September 2006 An American Alligator in captivity at the Columbus Zoo, Powell, Ohio. Digital photo taken by Postdlf

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