American alligators were once an endangered animal, but they are now considered one of the success stories of U.S. wildlife conservation. They were once hunted (almost to extinction!) for their skin, which was used to make boots, purses, and other leather goods. Laws were passed to ban hunting, and this species made an incredible comeback. Fortunately, they are no longer endangered!

These crocodilians range from Florida to Texas and inhabit rivers, swamps, marshes, and lakes. They have a wide, rounded snout which tells them apart from their close relative, the American crocodile, who has a more narrow snout.

Baby American alligators start out at 6 to 8 inches, but the average size for a male American alligator is 10 to 15 feet. These males can weigh up to 1,000 pounds! Females can grow to almost 10 feet.

Did You Know?
The word “alligator” comes from the Spanish term “el legarto,” meaning “the lizard.”

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Reptilia
  • Order: Crocodilia
  • Family: Alligatoridae
  • Genus: Alligator
  • Species: A. Mississippiensis
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