14 American Alligator Facts for Kids
The American alligator. While some confuse these reptiles for crocodiles, there’s a way to tell them apart: they have broader snouts and different teeth. This species of alligator primarily lives throughout the southeastern United States and parts of the southern United States, where they make their home in slow moving freshwater rivers.
American Alligator Facts for Kids ~ All About The American Alligator
How They Look
1. American alligators vary in size. Adult females typically measure 8.2 feet (2.6 meters) long on average. Adult males measure 11.2 feet (3.4 meters) on average.
2. Large adult males can get as heavy as a half-ton—well over 1,000 pounds.
3. Males and females have armored bodies with a muscular, flattened tail. Their legs are short; their back legs have four toes, while their front legs have five.
4. American alligators have long snouts with nostrils that point upward. This allows them to breathe through their nose while the rest of their body remains underwater.
5. Young American alligators can be distinguished by a yellow stripe—several of these bright yellow stripes are on their tail. Adults, however, have dark stripes on their tail.
6. Alligators have different teeth from crocodiles. Their large fourth tooth, located in their lower jaw, fits into a socket in their upper jaw, making that tooth practically invisible when their jaw closes.
7. Alligators have as much as 74 to 80 teeth at a time. When their teeth wear down, they quickly replace them.
8. Many alligators go through as much as 3,000 throughout their lifetime.
How They Live
9. Alligators live in different ways: females like to remain in a small area, while males like to occupy areas extending more than two square miles. Both types of alligators extend their living space during courting and breeding season.
10. Young and newly hatched alligators remain in their living area, close by their mother.
11. After two to three years, young alligators start leaving their homes to search for food. Some are driven out by larger alligators.
12. Alligators hibernate or become dormant in long periods of cold weather. Many occupy what’s called a ‘gator hole’ when the weather gets cold. The reptile digs out a hole, usually located along a waterway that sometime extends as much as 65 feet (20 meters) into the ground. Some alligators reside in these holes in extremely hot weather.
13. American alligators reside throughout North Carolina and all the way out on the Rio Grande in Texas. They live in freshwater, slowly moving rivers, but also live nearby lakes and in marshes and swamps. They don’t have salt glands and can’t tolerate saltwater for long periods of time.
14. Alligators typically feasts on various small mammals, frogs, birds, fish, snails and other invertebrates. Their jaws are strong enough to snap through shells and bone.