The alligator is an ancient creature which first appeared during the Oligocene epoch about 37 million years ago. Today there are two living alligator species: the American alligator - Alligator mississippiensis, and the Chinese alligator - Alligator sinensis. However, there are several extinct species of alligator are known from fossil remains.
Where do Alligators live?
American alligators live in freshwater environments, such as ponds, marshes, wetlands, rivers, lakes, and swamps, as well as brackish environments. The Chinese alligator currently is found only in the Yangtze River valley and is extremely endangered, with only a few dozen believed to be left in the wild. Indeed, far more Chinese alligators live in zoos around the world than can be found in the wild.
So, just what do alligators eat?
Alligators' main prey are smaller animals that they can kill and eat with a single bite. Alligators may kill larger prey by grabbing it and dragging it into the water to drown. Alligators consume food that can not be eaten in one bite by allowing it to rot, or by biting and then spinning or convulsing wildly until bite-size chunks are torn off. This is referred to as a "death roll." Critical to the alligator's ability to initiate a death roll, the tail must flex to a significant angle relative to its body. An alligator with an immobilized tail cannot perform a death roll.
In areas where human populations encroach on alligator territories larger alligators are also known to ambush dogs. Attacks on humans are rare but not unknown. Unlike large crocodiles, alligators do not immediately regard a humans as prey, but they may still attack in self-defence if provoked.
Due to the design of their teeth alligators are unable to chew their food so their stomachs also often contain gizzard stones which are used to help break down and digest their food .
The mating season is in late spring. In April and May, alligators form so-called "bellowing choruses". Large groups of animals bellow together for a few minutes a few times a day, usually one-three hours after sunrise. The bellows of male American alligators are accompanied by powerful blasts of infrasound produced by sacs in their chins.
Another form of male display is a loud head-slap. Recently it was discovered that on spring nights alligators gather in large numbers for group courtship, the so-called 'alligator dances'.
In summer, the female builds a nest of vegetation where the decomposition of the vegetation provides the heat needed to incubate the eggs. The sex of the offspring is determined by the temperature in the nest and is fixed within 7 to 21 days of the start of incubation. Incubation temperatures of 86 °F (30 °C) or lower produce a clutch of females; those of 93 °F (34 °C) or higher produce entirely males.
The mother will defend the nest from predators and will assist the hatchlings to water. She will provide protection to the young for about a year if they remain in the area. The largest threat to the young are adult alligators.
Baby alligators have an egg tooth that helps them get out of their egg during hatching time. Predation by adults on young can account for a mortality rate of up to fifty percent in the first year. In the past, immediately following the outlawing of alligator hunting, populations rebounded quickly due to the suppressed number of adults preying upon juveniles, increasing survival among the young alligators.
What is the difference between Alligators and Crocodiles?
Lets face it, crocodiles, alligators - they both look the same. Beady eyes, scary teeth and loads of warty skin - what else do you need to know? Well, they must be different otherwise they wouldn't have different names, and with just a closer look - and a little help from a suitable expert - you can see for yourself just how different they truly are.
So, just what is the difference between a crocodile and an an alligator?
The first difference between a crocodile and an alligator is that they are from different families. While both are grouped within the crocodilian family, crocodiles are from the crocodylidae family, while alligators and caiman are from the alligatoridae family.
In terms of physical differences, the easiest way to tell the difference between the two is that a crocodile has a very long, narrow, V-shaped snout. In contrast, the alligator's snout is wider and U-shaped. Because of the wide snout of the alligator it packs more crushing power to eat prey like turtles that constitute part of its diet. The narrow crocodile snout, although still very powerful, is not really suited for prey like turtles but is very versatile for fish and mammals.
An alligator, on the other hand, has a wider upper jaw, so when its mouth is closed the teeth in the lower jaw fit into sockets of the upper jaw, hidden from view. Only the teeth of the upper jaw are exposed along the lower jaw line. Even the enormous 4th tooth on the bottom jaw, which is exposed in a crocodile, is hidden in the alligator.
For related articles click onto:
All about Dolphins
Are Zebras Black with White Stripes or White with Black Stripes?
Can Dolphins Kill Sharks?
Cheetah Facts, Videos and Photographs
Do Fish Sleep?
Dinosaur: Did Pterosaurs hang upside down?
Dinosaur Facts and Movie clips - The Spinosaur
Dinosaur: The Pterodactyl
Dinosaur: The Spinosaur
How Big is the Blue Whale?
How Fast is a Cheetah?
How Fast is a Snail?
How Long can a Flying Fish Fly for?
How to Catch Crayfish
Is a Koala Bear a Bear?
Kung Fu Panda
Living Dinosaur Shark - The frilled shark
LIVING DINOSAURS - The Coelacanth
Rango Facts and Movie Videos
Snow Leopard facts
Terra Nova - Dinosaur Trailer
The Blue Whale
The Coelacanth - a living, breathing fossil
The Differences Between Crocodiles and Alligators
The Differences Between Horses and Zebras?
The Duck-Billed Platypus
The Snow Leopard
What are Mycorrhizal Fungi?
What are Plant Macronutrients and Micronutrients?
What are Plant Nutrients?
What are Truffles?
What Causes Blue Hydrangeas to Turn Pink?
What Causes Moss in Lawns
How do Dolphins Breath when they Sleep?
What do Alligators Eat?
What do Dolphins Eat?
What do Dolphins do?
What does the Great White Shark Eat?
What do Killer Whales Eat?
What do Lions Eat?
What do Pandas Eat?
What do Polar Bears Eat?
What do Gorillas eat?
What do Snow Leopards Eat?
What do Tigers Eat?
What does a Wolf Eat?
What is an Alligator?
What is a Cheetah?
What is a Duck-Billed Platypus?
What is a Flying Fish?
What is a Manatee?
What is a Panda?
What is Chlorosis?
What is E.Coli?
What is Frankincense?
What is John Innes Base?
What is John Innes Compost?
What is a Leaf Mould Compost?
What is Cork Made of?
What is a Truffle?
What is a Wormery?
What is an Epiphyte?
What is an F1 Hybrid?
What is an Orchid?
What is Over-watering and How to Recognise it?
What is Pricking out?
What is Rhubarb Poisoning?
What is the Difference between African and Indian Elephants?
What is the Difference between a Fruit and a Vegetable?
What is the Difference between a Frog and a Toad?
What is the Difference between Currants, Raisins and Sultanas?
What is the Difference between a Moth and a Butterfly?
What is the Difference between a Rat and a Mouse?
What is the Difference Between a Tortoise and a Turtle?
What is the Difference between a Zebra and a Horse?
What is the Most Poisonous Snake in India?
What is Saffron?
What is the World's Biggest Cat?
What is the Worlds Biggest Shark?
What is the Worlds Fastest Animal?
What is the Worlds Largest Amphibian?
What is the Worlds Largest Eagle?
What is the Worlds Largest Flower?
What is the Worlds Largest Insect?
What is the World's Largest Spider?
What is the Worlds Fastest Fish?
What is the Worlds most Poisonous Frog?
What is the World's most Poisonous Snake?
What is the most Poisonous Spider?
What is Tomato Blight?
When should you Re-pot an Orchid?
Where can you Find a Polar Bear?
Where do Alligators Live?
Where do Cheetahs Live?
Where do Jaguars Live?
Where do Manatees Live?
Where do Lions Live?
Where do Killer Whales Live?
Where do Pandas Live?
Where do Snow Leopards Live?
Where do Tigers Live?
Where do Wolves Live?
Why do Giraffes have Long Necks?
Why do Onions make you Cry?
Why do Leaves Change their Colour in the Autumn Fall
Why do Trees drop their Leaves in Autumn Fall
Why is the Sea Salty?
Why is the Sky Blue?
World's Largest Insect
Based on an article from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alligator
Photos care of http://sansrelecture.blogspot.com/2011/11/actualites-insolites-decouvrir_16.html and http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/05/marys_monday_metazoan_they_mus.php and http://nv.wikipedia.org/wiki/E%CA%BCelyaa%C3%ADg%C3%AD%C3%AD:Two_american_alligators.jpg and http://www.ask.com/wiki/American_alligator