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Alligator


American Alligator – Alligator mississippiensis
The American alligator is a large crocodilian reptile found in the Southeastern US. Once occupying a spot on the federal endangered species list, American alligator populations have recovered and are common in many parts of the Southeast. Healthy alligators can beyond 60 years of age, and are the last living reptiles that were closely related to dinosaurs, with their closest modern animal family being birds. Alligators are cold-blooded, meaning that they cannot regulate their own body temperature. For this reason, it is common to catch gators sunbathing on the banks of Everglades waters, sometimes seen with open mouths to cool themselves.

Habitat

The American alligator is found from the southern Virginia-North Carolina along the Atlantic Coast to Florida and along the Gulf of Mexico as far as Texas’s Rio Grande. Alligators live in swampy areas, rivers, streams, lakes and ponds. They are primarily freshwater animals preferring slow-moving rivers, but can also be found in brackish say water. They can only tolerate salt water for brief periods because they do not have salt glands.

Size & Appearance

American alligators continue to grow with age, but adult males generally measure between 11 and 15 feet (3.4 to 4.6 m) in length, weighing around 500 pounds (227 kg) but can weigh up to 999 pounds (453 kg). Females are smaller, measuring around 9.8 feet (3 M) and weighing around 201 pounds (91 kg.) Wild alligator’s body shapes vary from long and slender to short and robust, but all have broad snouts and when their mouths are closed, the upper jaw covers the lower teeth. They have upward facing nostrils at the end of their snout, allowing them to breathe while mostly underwater. Gator’s bodied are embedded with bony plates called osteoderms or scutes, and have muscular flat tails. They have four short legs, the front two having five toes while the back legs only have four. Despite their short legs, alligators can still run very quickly over short distances. American alligators have between 74 and 80 teeth in their mouth at any moment, but they can go through between 2,000 and 3,000 teeth in a lifetime. Adults may be olive, brown, gray, or black in color, while their bellies are cream-colored. Young alligators can be told apart from adults by the bright yellow stripes on their tails as opposed to the dark stripes of adults.

Diet

Alligators are opportunistic apex predators. Adults’ diets mainly consist of fish, wading birds, turtles, snakes, frogs, small mammals and smaller alligators. Younger alligators diets are made up of small fish, aquatic invertebrates, raccoons, crabs, large snakes, turtles, various types of wading birds and fish.

Alligators vs. Crocodiles

They are many differentiating features between alligators and crocodiles, but their teeth are the easiest way of distinguishing them. Alligators’ large teeth fit fit into the upper jaw when closed, whereas crocodiles’ do not.

Fun Facts

  • The alligator became the official state reptile of Florida in 1987.
  • Spanish sailors originally visiting the New World assumed the alligator to be a massive lizard, therefore calling it “el lagarto” or “the lizard.”
  • Alligators are mostly hunted for their skins, but are also hunted for meat.
  • There is a multi-million dollar industry in which captive alligators are raised for their meat and skin.
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Animal Encounters at Everglades Holiday Park ANIMAL ENCOUNTERS - Experience a 45-minute Everglades animal encounter where you can pet, feed, and play with 5 wild, uncaged animals. Learn about alligators, tortoises, skunks, racoons, snakes, pigs, and more from our expert animal handlers!
Everglades VIP Tours EVERGLADES VIP TOURS - Sit back and relax as Everglades Holiday Park drives you to and from our park for the ultimate VIP Everglades airboat tour! Your VIP tour will be accompanied by a live alligator presentation, and FREE baby alligator and airboat group photos!
Group Airboat Tours GROUP AIRBOAT TOURS - If you're considering visiting Everglades Holiday Park with a group of 15 or more friends, we're pleased to offer a group rate for enjoying the Everglades together.
Private Airboat Tours at Everglades Holiday Park PRIVATE AIRBOAT TOURS - Experience the magic of the Everglades on a private airboat tour! Perfect for small groups of 2 or more, Everglades Holiday Park can customize your tour for a perfect mix of excitement, discovery, and leisure.
Everglades Birthday Parties at Everglades Holiday Park BIRTHDAY PARTIES - Plan an unforgettable birthday celebration at Everglades Holiday Park! Perfect for kids of all ages, our park offers exciting airboat tours, live alligator shows, animal encounters, and more!
Summer Camps Field Trips at Everglades Holiday Park SUMMER CAMP FIELD TRIPS - Everglades Holiday Park offers the perfect combination of education and entertainment. We can accommodate summer camp groups up to 150 guests! Come enjoy a 60-minute guided airboat tour, a live alligator presentation, outdoor activities, and our full-service deli and café.
Everglades School Trips at Everglades Holiday Park EVERGLADES SCHOOL FIELD TRIPS - Educate your students about Everglades preservation and exotic animals at Everglades Holiday Park! Our park is the perfect spot for an exciting and informative South Florida school field trip!
Shore Excursions at Everglades Holiday Park SHORE EXCURSIONS - Everglades Holiday Park is home to the best Everglades shore excursion. Conveniently located near Ft. Lauderdale, Miami and Palm Beach in Florida, you and your guests will create memories that will last a lifetime when you explore the majestic wonderland of the Everglades.