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Quick Facts
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Crocodylia
Family: Alligatoridae
Genus: Alligator
Species: mississippiensis

Length: 72 - 192 inches
Weight: 270 - 500 lbs
Gestation: 65 days
Offspring: 20 - 50
Life Span: 30 - 50 years
Top Speed (Ground): 30 mph

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American Alligator

Alligator mississippiensis

These In-Depth Articles are an exclusive feature of theBigZoo.com and offer the most detailed look we offer. They are perfect for school projects and wildlife enthusiasts.
American Alligator- On the Move (941 words) Can alligators and crocodiles crawl? What about jumping? Learn all about crocodylian locomotion in this fascinating article.
American Alligator- Conservation History (928 words) Learn about the many efforts to conserve these reptiles from the 1950's through the 1970's.
American Alligator- Natural History (1069 words) Trace the family history of this ancient reptile.

The American alligator is the largest reptile in North America, reaching over 16 feet from head to tail. The young are black or dark gray with bright yellow stripes. As they age, they lose the yellow, leaving only a black or dark gray coloring.

The American alligator feeds on a variety of animals. They will eat almost any preyWhat does prey mean? that comes within range. They will also eat the carcass of an animal if given the chance. Alligators will eat any time, but only if the temperature of the water is above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Young alligators eat mostly insects and small fish.

The range of the American alligator includes all of the land along the bank of the Gulf of Mexico.

Alligators are most vulnerable when they are still in the egg or very young. Raccoons, large fish, and birds are the biggest predatorsWhat does predators mean?, but some dominant males will also kill the babies.

The young alligators for a pod that may even include young alligators from other nests. This pod may stay near a mother for up to 3 years.

A female alligator will lay between 20 and 50 eggs in a nest made of rotting vegetation and mud. She then covers the eggs with more vegetation. In the end, the nest can be over 3 feet high and 6 feet wide. The female will remain near the nest to protect her unborn children. When the eggs hatch, about 65 days later, the mother opens the nest and carries the babies to the water. The young will stay near the mother for up to 3 years.

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