Alex – American Alligator
Alex is a female American Alligator (Alligator Mississippiensis), born in 2001. Alex came to the Foundation through Butte County Fish and Wildlife. She was found in Butte Creek, either escaping from or released by her owner who had her illegally. Alex will remain at the Foundation as an ambassador to her species in our educational program.
The American alligator ranges from long and slender to short and robust based on the area they live in. Alligators have broad snouts and an ‘armored’ body with a muscular flat tail. They have four short legs; the front legs have five toes while the back legs have four toes. The teeth of the alligator are very sharp and on average they have about 70 – 80 teeth in their jaw. The alligator is able to replace all of its teeth as they fall out. An alligator can go through as many as 3,000 teeth in its lifetime.
Alligators are carnivorous reptiles. Their diet includes birds, frogs, insects, snakes, turtles, fish and mammals. Alligators do not chew their food, instead they crush their prey with their powerful jaws, and drown them by taking them underwater.
The female alligator builds a nest for her eggs, which can measure from 6 – 10 feet in diameter and 2 – 3 feet in height. The summer sun heats the vegetation in the nest pile and helps incubate the eggs. The temperature of the nest determines the sex of the newborn alligators. If the temperature in the pile is above 93°F, the alligators will be male, and below 86°F they will be female. When the temperature is between 86°F and 93°F, the newborn alligators are a mix of male and female. Alligators are incredible mothers, they help dig out their newborns after they’ve hatched and gently holding the newborns in their mouths and deliver them to the water. For the first few years, the mother aggressively protects her young. On average, about 80% of the hatchlings do not survive, falling prey to predators such as birds, raccoons, otters, bobcats, largemouth bass, and other alligators.
Alligators are found in fresh water areas such as marshes, swamps, lakes and rivers, whereas their crocodile cousin can be found in both fresh and salt waters. Alligators are native to Alabama, Arkansas, North and South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas. State and federal laws heavily protect the American alligator, as it was once on the brink of extinction. The American alligator was considered completely recovered and removed from the endangered species list in 1987.
Having an alligator is ILLEGAL unless you are licensed. Alligators are not pets and can be extremely dangerous – not only for humans but local wildlife.
american alligator Statistics:
males: up to 18 feet long females: up to 14 feet long
300 - 800 pounds
60 - 65 days
20 - 50 eggs
15 - 25 years in the wild, up to 50 years in captivity