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Florida Boardwalk Animal Fact Sheet
AMERICAN ALLIGATOR
Alligator mississippiensis

Range:
Southeastern United States. The range of the American alligator is limited primarily by cold temperatures and the distribution of the wetlands in which they live.


















Habitat: Swamps and inland streams and lakes.
Diet: Small hatchling alligators eat insects, crabs, crayfish, small fish, frogs, snails and many other small prey. Larger alligators eat fish, turtles, mammals, snakes, crabs, crayfish, birds, insects and other alligators.
Status: Both the American alligator and the American crocodile receive protection under the Federal Endangered Species Act. The alligator in Florida is classified as threatened due to similarity of appearance. This special designation is used because, although the alligator in Florida is no longer biologically endangered, it is necessary to maintain restrictions on commercial activities to ensure the conservation of alligator populations in other states and of similar-looking threatened or endangered crocodilian species such as the American Crocodile.
Approximate Dimensions of Adult: Weight: Varies.
Length: Varies with food availability and temperature - record 19'2" in Louisiana and 17'5" in Florida
Lifespan: 50 years in captivity and 30-35 years in the wild.
Reproduction & Offspring: Sexual maturity depends on the size and both sexes reach maturity at about 6 feet in length. Most nesting occurs in June and early July. Nests are usually constructed on mounds of vegetation, raised banks of slightly higher ground so that the eggs will be above the high water mark. Females usually stay near their nest during incubation and often can be found in the water near the trail leading to the nest. Some females actively defend their nest. The number of eggs in a nest may vary from 20 to 50 or more. The eggs are oval, about 2.5 inches long, and weigh 2 to 3 ounces each. Hatching occurs after 65 days of incubation. The eggshell is composed of several layers, the outer being hard and heavily calcified, and the inner layers being soft and rubbery. As incubation progresses the acids in the nest gradually erode pits in the outer layer exposed the soft inner layers. The sex of the alligator is determined by the temperatures at which the egg is incubated. There is a critical period for sex determination between the 7th and 21st day of incubation. If the temperature drops below 86 degrees F, they will all be females. If the temperature rises to 93 degrees F or above, they will all be males. At 89.6 degrees F, more than 3/4 of the hatchlings are female.

 

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