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Facts about American Alligator

The biggest alligator on record was caught in Louisiana nearly one hundred years ago. It measured more than 19 feet (5.8 m).

The alligator is the second largest reptile in the United States. Only the American crocodile is bigger.

American Indians once wore alligator teeth around their necks. They thought that the alligator teeth would ward off bad luck.

Alligators in zoos may live from sixty to eighty years. In the wild, alligators usually only live from thirty – five to fifty years.

The longest alligator on record was nineteen feet, two inches long.  It came from Louisiana. This alligator was trapped in the early 1900s.

Alligators look slow, but they can be fast on their feet. They can reach speeds of up to twenty miles per hour for short distances.

Alligator teeth are often shed and replaced. Old alligators may have had as many as fifty sets of teeth.

Early Spanish explorers called the alligator el lagarto. It means “the lizard.”

The alligator has been named Florida’s state reptile.

A healthy alligator can go for months without eating. These reptiles store fat in their bodies and tails.

An alligator can survive in water as cold as 36 degrees Fahrenheit or as warm as 98 degrees Fahrenheit.

Gator or CrocUsually, you can tell the difference between a crocodile and an alligator by looking at their snouts. Alligators have wide, U - shaped noses. Crocodiles (except the Indian mugger species) have narrow, pointed, V- shaped noses. The differences in snout shape are because of the kind of prey they eat. Alligators' flat snouts make it easier to crush the hard shells of their favorite food, turtles and snails. The pointed snout of the crocodile helps it to catch fish. Fish make up 70 percent of croc's diet.

How would you like to share your school with an alligator?
 At the University of Florida, alligators live in a lake right in the middle of the campus.

 Zoo alligators
- Zoo alligators don't have to hunt for their food, so they spend much of their day lying in the sun or under heat lamps. Sometimes zoo- keepers give them some fish to catch.

- Zoo alligators eat meat, just like wild alligators. Their keepers feed them creatures such as rats, as well as beef, chicken, or rabbit.

- Female alligators make nest in the zoo, just as they do in the wild. But the zoo might take away most of the eggs since it doesn't have space for 45 new baby alligators every year!

- Alligators live for about 35 to 50 years in the wild, but in zoos, some live to be 70 or more.

Pet Food

Often the first choice of a hungry alligator is not a person but his or her pet dog. One reason is that a dog is about the same size as the reptile's normal prey. A second is that a dog may provoke alligators by barking and charging at them.

"That’s just like ringing the dinner bell," explained Lieutenant Jeffrey B. Haynes. Haynes is a Florida official who works to control troublemaking alligators. "We had one recently that ate a couple of dogs, big dogs, 60 - 70 - pound (27 - 32 kg dogs."

When an alligator goes after a dog, the owner also may be injured in the attack.   In 1997, an alligator killed a three - year - old boy as he was playing with his dog in a Florida lake. It is believed that the dog attracted the attention of the 11 - foot (3.5) m), 450 - pound (203-kg) reptile. Trying to save his pet, the boy also became a victim of the attack.

Human Provocation

There are many people who take chances with their lives around alligators. Some are professionals, such as alligator wrestlers. Others just want to see how close they can get to the reptiles. Serious injuries can result when people feed alligators. Teasing, harassing, or attempting to move an alligator also is extremely dangerous. There are local wildlife agencies where people are trained to handle and remove aggressive alligators.
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