American Alligator

GLOBAL DISTRIBUTION/RANGE: 
Southern United States, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South and North Carolina. 

DIET: 
Juveniles eat a wide variety of small invertebrates, particularly insects, and small fish and frogs. Large adults can tackle nearly all aquatic and terrestrial prey that comes within range, although mostly this includes fish, turtles, relatively small mammals, birds and reptiles including small alligators. At the El Paso Zoo we feed our alligators rodents, fish and chicken.

HABITAT: 
Primarily freshwater swamps and marshes, but also in rivers, lakes and smaller bodies of water. They can tolerate a reasonable degree of salinity for short periods of time, being occasionally found in brackish water around mangrove swamps, although they lack the buccal (mouth) salt-secreting glands present in crocodiles.

DESCRIPTION: 
These animals can grow up to be 11 feet long and weigh from about 450 to 500 pounds.

DID YOU KNOW? 
Females reach sexual maturity when they are about 6 feet long. The courtship rituals, which occur when the temperatures rise in spring, have been well-studied. Both sexes communicate using aural, visual, tactile and olfactory cues. The female constructs a mound nest of vegetation (usually freshly torn up) and often with mud at the start of the summer. The female often returns to the same sites each year. Using mainly her back legs, the female excavates a conical depression in the top of her completed mound and lays between 20 and 50 eggs inside. She subsequently covers the hole with more vegetation, scooped up using her front and back legs. She stays near by throughout the incubation period, which lasts about 65 days, and protects her eggs from would-be predators.

MORE ABOUT OUR ANIMALS: 
We have a female alligator named Brutus. She lives alone because she did not like her former exhibit mate. Feeding time is 2:30 pm on Mondays and Thursdays.

HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED IN CONSERVATION EFFORTS:  
Read about alligators online and check out books from your local library. Become a member of the El Paso Zoological Society. The funds raised by the society are used to support conservation efforts at the Zoo and in the wild. Read more about the threats to American Alligators.

JUST FOR KIDS: 
As a family activity, you can look for other kinds of reptiles at the El Paso Zoo. What is the name of the biggest one? (hint: look across from the Reptile House) What is the name of the longest one? (hint: look in the Asia Forest Complex)