The American alligator (Alligator mississipiensis) is one of the largest reptiles. The length of adult alligators varies from 13 to 18 feet. The tail accounts for about half of its length. They can weigh from about 450 to 500 pounds.
The American alligator is usually a solitary animal. Their diet consists of whatever they can catch. Babies feed on insects, shrimp, tadpoles, frogs and fish, while adults will eat turtles, fish, raccoons, birds, and dead animals. The American alligator is found in the warm wetlands and swamps of the Southeastern United States (Florida, Georgia, Texas, Louisiana, and Alabama).
|Forelimb showing the large claws and slight webbing between the toes||Tail which is for aquatic propulsion and as a weapon of defense|
The American alligator has a large, slightly rounded body, with thick limbs, a broad head, and a very powerful tail. Adult Alligators generally have a green, olive, brown, gray or nearly black color with a creamy white underside. Algae-laden waters produce greener skin, while tannic acid from overhanging trees can often produce darker skin.Juvenile alligators have a striped pattern for camouflage that they lose as they mature. Averaging about 9.5 in (24 cm) in length when newly hatched, alligators reach sexual maturity at about 5–6 ft in length (1.5-1.83 m). Adult male alligators average 11.2 ft (3.4 m) in length, while adult females average 8.2 to 9.8 ft (2.5 to 3.0 m).Average body weights are reported from 270 to 800 lb (120 to 360 kg), with extremely large, old males exceeding 14 ft (4.3 m) and 1,000 pounds (450 kg). One American Alligator reached a length of 19 feet 2 inches (5.84 m) and 2,200 lb (1,000 kg), which made it not only the largest alligator ever recorded, but also among the largest crocodilians on record (although the related Black Caiman and 5 other crocodilians are believe to equal or exceed this size and prehistoric crocodilians such as Sarcosuchus, Deinosuchus, and Purussaurus reached much greater size). The tail, which accounts for half of the alligator's total length, is primarily used for aquatic propulsion. The tail can also be used as a weapon of defense when an alligator feels threatened. Alligators travel very quickly in water and while they are generally slow-moving on land, alligators can lunge short distances very quickly. They have five claws on each front foot and four on each rear foot. American Alligators have the strongest laboratory measured bite of any living animal, measured at up to 9,452 newtons (2,125 lbf) in laboratory conditions. It should be noted that this experiment has not (at the time of the paper published) been replicated in any other crocodilians.
Some alligators are missing an inhibited gene for melanin, which makes them albino. These alligators are extremely rare and almost impossible to find in the wild. They could survive only in captivity. Like all albino animals, they are very vulnerable to the sun and predators. American Alligators can remain underwater for several hours if not actively swimming or hunting (then it is only about 20 minutes); they do this by rerouting blood to reduce circulation to the lungs, and thus the need for oxygen.