Umm…Okay, here is something you need to know: ALLIGATORS ≠ CROCODILES. These two are totally different. We covered crocodile facts earlier. Let us today look at the alligator facts. We can’t promise that all these facts will be super interesting but there will be a few that will scare you. Don’t take alligators lightly. They are dangerous predators just like crocodiles and yes, they too rule the waters. So, let us begin!
Alligator Facts: 1-5
1. Alligators are reptiles. They are closely related to crocodiles because they belong to the order Crocodilia. However, they are very different from crocodiles.
2. In case you cannot make out the difference between an alligator and a crocodile, remember these differences: An alligator is black, a crocodile is grey green.
3. An alligator will have a rounded and wide snout, a crocodile will have pointed and narrow snout.
4. An alligator’s all teeth of the upper jaw will be visible when its jaws are closed. In case of crocodile only its lower jaw’s fourth tooth becomes visible when it closes its jaws.
5. While there are several types of crocodiles available, in case of alligators, there are only two types – the Chinese alligator and the American alligator.
Alligator Facts: 6-10
6. Compared to the Chinese counterpart, the American alligators are bigger and heavier. The American ones can grow up to 3.4 meters or 11.2 feet. The Chinese one however grow up to 1.5 meters or up to 4.9 meters.
7. American alligators can weigh up to 454 kilos or 1,000 pounds. The Chinese ones usually weigh up to 22.7 kilos or 50 lbs. So basically, Chinese ones are really dwarf-like in front of the American alligators.
8. Alligators are natives to only China and America. Smithsonian Zoo says that American alligators are found in southern US.
9. Saint Louis Zoo on the other hand says that the Chinese alligators are limited only to the Yangtze River Basin in eastern China. This Yangtze River Basin is close to the Pacific Ocean.
10. American alligators are usually found in swamps, lakes, ponds and rivers that move slowly.
Alligator Facts: 11-15
11. As far as the Chinese alligators are concerned, they are found mostly in ponds and ditches found on agricultural lands because most of their habitat has now been converted into rice paddies. However, they too traditionally lived in swamps, lakes, ponds and rivers.
12. Alligators are incapable of controlling body temperature. So, when it gets hot, they need to swim in water. When it gets cold, they usually take sunbath.
13. Alligators are more or less social by nature. They are usually found in groups. They avoid a solitary lifestyle. Groups of alligators are known as congregations. So, whether they are basking or swimming, they will usually do that in groups.
14. On land, alligators are pretty awkward. They aren’t really good hunters on land. Which is why, they hunt in water. On land American alligators can run at a speed of 17.7 km/hr. In water, they can swim at a speed of 32.18 km/hr. These figures come from San Diego Zoo.
15. Alligators are carnivores but they are not at all picky. Anything that is meat, blood and bones – it can be a meal. However, though they are carnivores, they are often seen munching on fruits. You don’t believe it? Watch the video here.
Alligator Facts: 16-20
16. Typical alligator diet includes reptiles, small mammals, birds, mollusks and fish. They eat coypus and muskrats a lot.
17. When it comes to mating, alligators do that only during June. A single male can actually mate with multiple females and impregnate them. Females on the other hand will mate with only a single male during the mating season.
18. The females lay eggs in the very next month. However, before they lay eggs, they will actually make a nest. This nest will be made of mud, plants and sticks.
19. One female Chinese alligator can lay anywhere between 10 and 50 eggs. An American female alligator also lays a similar number of eggs.
20. Once the eggs are laid, the female will then cover the eggs with further mud, plants and sticks.
Alligator Facts: 21-25
21. Just like in case of crocodiles, the temperature is the key factor to determine the sex of the babies that come out of the eggs.
22. In case the nest temperature is exactly 31 degrees Celsius or 87.8 degrees Fahrenheit, equal number of males and females will be born.
23. If the nest temperature is above 33 degrees Celsius or 91.4 degrees Fahrenheit, males will be born. If the temperature is below 28 degrees Celsius or 82.4 degrees Fahrenheit, females will be born.
24. When it is September, it is time for the babies to hatch out of the eggs. Until that time, the females keep an eye on the eggs. When the babies hatch, the mothers may help the babies by removing debris over the eggs or may even help the babies to come out of the shells by breaking the egg shells.
25. The newborn alligators (known has hatchlings) are very much capable of capturing their own food right after they are hatched.
Alligator Facts: 26-30
26. The hatchlings stay with their mother for about two years. After that, they move out and start making their own families.
27. Alligators have very rough skin which look like floating logs in water. This is the reason why they can easily stock on their preys.
28. Alligators do not really go after humans and prefer to stay away. However, when threatened, alligators are not at all shy of pulling a fast attack on humans.
29. Alligators are cannibals too. The bigger alligators (especially the American ones) actually eat up up to 7% of juvenile alligators every year. Source
30. Alligators have one of the strongest bite forces among all animals that are alive today. A study was conducted in year 2004. It turned out that they have a bite force of 13,172 Newtons or 2960 pounds. Stay away! You shouldn’t fool around with them.