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Alligator mississippiensis   (Daudin, 1801)

American alligator
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Classification / Names Common names | Synonyms | CoL | ITIS | WoRMS

Reptilia | Crocodilia | Alligatoridae

Environment: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range Ecology

Benthic; freshwater; brackish.  Subtropical; 36°N - 25°N, 106°W - 75°W

Distribution Countries | FAO areas | Ecosystems | Occurrences | Introductions

Western Central Atlantic: Southeast USA (Alabama, Arkansas, North and South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas).

Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: Lm 1.8  range ? - ? cm Max length : 427 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 80293); 309.9 cm TL (female); max. published weight: 473.10 g (Ref. 80293); max. published weight: 473.10 g

Short description Morphology

Broad snout with bony nasal bridge; edge of upper jaw overlaps with teeth of lower jaw when mouth closed. Juveniles are miniature adults with bright yellow cross-bands on black skin; yellow bands turn to olive brown. Skin around jaws, neck and belly are creamy white. Pale ventral surface, scales near tail black. Bony plates on scales of belly. Olive green eyes (Ref. 77040). Sexual dimorphism visible only on juveniles and adults greater than 0.6 m.

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

Can tolerate saline waters for short periods of time. Construct burrows used for shelter and hibernation at low temperatures. Construct alligator holes for refuge during dry periods. May cross land when alligator holes dry out to find another body of water. Opportunistic feeders. Juveniles feed on small invertebrates (insects, frogs) and small fish. Dietary range increases as size increases and larger adults consume all aquatic and terrestrial prey (fish, turtles, small mammals, birds, reptiles including small alligators). May also scavenge. Feeding activity related to temperature, decreasing at temperatures below 20 to 23°C. Ectothermic. Home range size of adult males is 2000 acres (Ref. 80292). Courtship rituals involve rapid head-slapping on water surface, body postures reinforced with odor from musk glands. Courtship synchronizes spermatogenesis and ovulation. Female creates the nest, often the same site each year and near an 'alligator hole' from freshly torn up vegetation and mud (usually at the start of summer) above the water level. Female lays 20-50 eggs (average of 40-45), remains near the nest until eggs hatch, sometimes breaking the egg to help hatchlings out. She then takes 8-10 hatchlings in her mouth and carries them to the water encouraging them to swim out. Juveniles form pods which often stay close to the mother for a period of up to 2 years (Ref. 77040).

Life cycle and mating behavior Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae

Courtship rituals involve rapid head-slapping on water surface, body postures reinforced with odor from musk glands. Courtship synchronizes spermatogenesis and ovulation. Female creates the nest, often the same site each year and near an 'alligator hole' from freshly torn up vegetation and mud (usually at the start of summer) above the water level. Female lays 20-50 eggs (average of 40-45), remains near the nest until eggs hatch, sometimes breaking the egg to help hatchlings out. She then takes 8-10 hatchlings in her mouth and carries them to the water encouraging them to swim out. Juveniles form pods which often stay close to the mother for a period of up to 2 years.

Main reference References | Coordinator | Collaborators

Britton, A. 2002. (Ref. 77040)

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 120744)


CITES status (Ref. 108899)


CMS (Ref. 116361)

Not Evaluated

Threat to humans

  Traumatogenic

Human uses

Fisheries: commercial; aquaculture: commercial
FAO(fisheries: production) | FishSource | Sea Around Us

Tools

More information

Age/Size
Growth
Length-weight
Length-length
Morphology
Larvae
Abundance
References
Mass conversion

Internet sources

BHL | BOLD Systems | CISTI | DiscoverLife | FAO(fisheries: ; publication : search) | GenBank (genome, nucleotide) | GloBI | | Google Books | Google Scholar | Google | ispecies | PubMed | Tree of Life | Wikipedia (Go, Search) | Zoological Record

Estimates of some properties based on models

Price category (Ref. 80766)
Unknown