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Experience: I was attacked by an alligator

Alligators are tiny at birth but they get big. R eally big.

Baby alligators, like most baby animals, are really cute. Adults alligators would, if they had the ability to stand upright, tower over the tallest NBA player: females reach an average length of just over 8 feet, while males reach lengths greater than 11 feet. Alligator attacks are three times as deadly as shark attacks. WTTW News. Just last year, a year-old elementary school teacher in South Carolina was killed by a 9-foot alligator while trying to protect her dog.

In Florida, which has the highest number of human-alligator interactions, there have been 24 deadly alligator attacks since , with the majority coming in the past 20 years. Attacks by alligators are nearly three times as deadly as shark attacks, according to data compiled by the Florida Museum of Natural History. American alligators nearly went extinct. American alligators, which live in the wetlands of the southern U. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Alligators and Crocodiles | Saint Louis Zoo

In , USFWS pronounced that American alligators had completed a full recovery and removed the species from the endangered list. Alligators possess a keen sense of hearing, allowing them to accurately pinpoint the source of sounds. An alligator can go through 3, teeth in a lifetime. How can you tell an alligator from a crocodile? Look at their teeth.

Alligator Mississippiensi

When the jaws are closed, the edges of the upper jaws cover the lower teeth, which fit into the jaws' hollows. Like the spectacled caiman , this species has a bony nasal ridge, though it is less prominent. No significant difference is noted between the bite forces of male and female American alligators of equal size. When on land, an American alligator moves either by sprawling or walking, the latter involving the reptile lifting its belly off the ground.

The sprawling of American alligators and other crocodylians is not similar to that of salamanders and lizards, being similar to walking. Therefore, the two forms of land locomotion can be termed the "low walk" and the "high walk". Unlike most other land vertebrates, American alligators increase their speed through the distal rather than proximal ends of their limbs. American alligators are found in the wild in the Southeastern United States , from the Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia and North Carolina , south to Everglades National Park in Florida, and west to the southern tip of Texas , as well as the northern border region of the Mexican state of Tamaulipas.

In , several sightings of animals that had moved north into West Tennessee were confirmed. They inhabit swamps, streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes. A lone American alligator was spotted for over 10 years living in a river north of Atlanta, Georgia. While they prefer fresh water, American alligators may sometimes wander into brackish water, [45] but are less tolerant of salt water than crocodiles, as the salt glands on their tongues do not function.

During summer, males still preferred open water, while females remained in the swamps to construct their nests and lay their eggs. Both sexes may den underneath banks or clumps of trees during the winter. American alligators are less vulnerable to cold than American crocodiles. American alligators primarily bask on shore, but also climb into and perch on tree limbs to bask if no shoreline is available. This is not often seen, since if disturbed, they quickly retreat back into the water by jumping from their perch. American alligators modify wetland habitats, most dramatically in flat areas such as the Everglades, by constructing small ponds known as alligator holes.

This behavior has qualified the American alligator to be considered a keystone species. Alligator holes retain water during the dry season and provide a refuge for aquatic organisms, which survive the dry season by seeking refuge in alligator holes, so are a source of future populations. The construction of nests along the periphery of alligator holes, as well as a buildup of soils during the excavation process, provides drier areas for other reptiles to nest and a place for plants that are intolerant of inundation to colonize. Alligator holes are an oasis during the Everglades dry season, so are consequently important foraging sites for other organisms.

The teeth of the American alligator are designed to grip prey, but cannot rip or chew flesh like teeth of some other predators such as canids and felids , and depend on their gizzard , instead, to masticate their food. The American alligator is capable of biting though a turtle's shell or a moderately sized mammal bone. American alligators have been documented using lures to hunt prey such as birds.

By balancing sticks and branches on their heads, American alligators are able to lure birds looking for suitable nesting material to kill and consume. This strategy, which is shared by the mugger crocodile , is particularly effective during the nesting season, in which birds are more likely to gather appropriate nesting materials.

Adventure Calls. Answer the Call.

Fish and other aquatic prey taken in the water or at the water's edge form the major part of American alligator's diet and may be eaten at any time of the day or night. Usually, terrestrial hunting occurs on nights with warm temperatures. Additionally, American alligators have recently been filmed and documented killing and eating sharks and rays; four incidents documented indicated that bonnetheads , lemon sharks , Atlantic stingrays , and nurse sharks are components of the animal's diet.

Sharks are also known to prey on American alligators, in turn, indicating encounters between the two predators are common. American alligators are considered an apex predator throughout their range. They are opportunists and their diet is determined largely by both their size and age and the size and availability of prey. Most American alligators eat a wide variety of animals, including invertebrates , fish , birds , turtles , snakes , amphibians , and mammals.

Hatchlings mostly feed on invertebrates such as insects, insect larvae , snails , spiders , and worms. As they grow, American alligators gradually expand to larger prey. Once an American alligator reaches full size and power in adulthood, any animal living in the water or coming to the water to drink is potential prey. Most animals captured by American alligators are considerably smaller than itself. Other animals may occasionally be eaten, even large deer or feral wild boars , but these are not normally part of the diet.

Alligator vs Crocodile!

American alligators occasionally prey on large mammals, such as deer, but usually do so when fish and smaller prey levels go down. Occasionally, domestic animals, including dogs , cats , and calves , are taken as available, but are secondary to wild and feral prey. Occasionally, unwary adult birds are grabbed and eaten by American alligators, but most predation on bird species occurs with unsteady fledgling birds in late summer, as fledgling birds attempt to make their first flights near the water's edge.

In , American alligators and other crocodilians were reported to also eat fruit.

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The discovery of this unexpected part of the American alligator diet further reveals that they may be responsible for spreading seeds from the fruit they consume across their habitat. The diet of adult American alligators from central Florida lakes was dominated by fish, highly opportunistically based upon local availability.

Unusually in these regions, reptiles and amphibians were the most important nonpiscivore prey, mostly turtles and water snakes. In East Texas , diets were diverse and adult American alligators took mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates e. An American alligator is able to abduct and adduct the vocal folds of its larynx , but not to elongate or shorten them; yet in spite of this, it can modulate fundamental frequency very well.

Crocodilians are the most vocal of all reptiles and have a variety of different calls depending on the age, size, and gender of the animal. Juveniles can perform a high-pitched hatchling call a "yelping" trait common to many crocodilian species' hatchling young [75] to alert their mothers when they are ready to emerge from the nest. Juveniles also make a distress call to alert their mothers if they are being threatened. Adult American alligators can growl, hiss, or cough to threaten others and declare territory. Both males and females bellow loudly by sucking air into their lungs and blowing it out in intermittent, deep-toned roars to attract mates and declare territory.

Bellowing is performed in a "head oblique, tail arched" posture. Infrasonic waves from a bellowing male can cause the surface of the water directly over and to either side of its back to literally "sprinkle", [77] in what is commonly called the "water dance". The breeding season begins in the spring. On spring nights, American alligators gather in large numbers for group courtship, in the aforementioned "water dances".

After the female lays her 20 to 50 white eggs, about the size of a goose egg, she covers them with more vegetation, which heats as it decays, helping to keep the eggs warm. This differs from Nile crocodiles, which lay their eggs in pits. The nests built on levees are warmer, thus produce males, while the cooler nests of wet marsh produce females. When the young begin to hatch — their "yelping" calls can sometimes even be heard just before hatching commences — the mother quickly digs them out and carries them to the water in her mouth, [21] as some other crocodilian species are known to do.

The young are tiny replicas of adults, with a series of yellow bands around their bodies that serve as camouflage. Young American alligators eat small fish, frogs, crayfish, and insects. Nutria were introduced into coastal marshes from South America in the midth century, and their population has since exploded into the millions.

They cause serious damage to coastal marshes and may dig burrows in levees.