American alligator

American alligator


South-East United States




Marshes, wetlands and rivers

Latin Name

Alligator mississippiensis

IUCN conservation status

They're the largest reptiles in North America, and their thick armour gives them a prehistoric-like appearance.

Powerful Jaws that Close Like Clamps

Adults can eat just about anything: fish, mammals, birds, reptiles and invertebrates. Prey can be swallowed whole or shredded into pieces. Their jaws, equipped with conical teeth, can close with a pressure of 1000 kg/cm2. Their teeth constantly grow back throughout their lifetime.

A Powerful Body Built for Aquatic Environments

Perfectly immobile at water level, they're able to accelerate rapidly by propelling themselves with their long tail. Their many scales hide bony plates, called osteoderms or scutes which make their armour even stronger. Although they are faster in the water, surprisingly, they can reach speeds of up to 10 km/h on dry land.

A Gregarious Lifestyle Disrupted during Breeding periods

Juveniles tend to group together more than adults, although they tolerate the presence of their peers very well. Males show dominant behaviour during the breeding season, while females become more aggressive when choosing and defending a nesting site.

Rewarding Conservation Efforts

Placed on the endangered species list in 1967, American alligators have benefited from strict protection measures. Today, there are an estimated 5 million of them in the wild. At the top of the food chain, they help control prey populations, especially species humans consider harmful, such as the coypu.

Other animals from South America