The American alligator, known to scientists as Alligator mississippiensis, is at the top of the food chain. Called an apex predator, American alligator adults feed on virtually every other creature that shares their habitat, but they fear nothing except for humans and larger alligators. However, its young are not so safe, and many baby alligators are consumed by a variety of aquatic predators.
Fish and turtles are the most important prey for most alligators, but they are not fussy eaters. Other common prey species include snakes, frogs, toads, salamanders, birds, lizards, beavers, raccoons, nutria, rats, crustaceans, mollusks, insects and smaller alligators. Young alligators feed on smaller prey, including insects, frogs and fish. Alligators of all ages adapt to local food sources, but they are strictly carnivorous and do not eat vegetation.
Wading birds, snakes, large fish, turtles, raccoons, foxes and larger alligators hunt young alligators. As they grow, young alligators add more and larger prey to their list of acceptable food. Concurrently, alligators fear fewer predators as they grow.
Alligators are an important part of freshwater ecosystems as they help to maintain balance among the populations of small animals. Additionally, turtles and some other animals deposit their eggs in alligator nests.Learn More
As of 2015, the largest alligator on record is 741 pounds. It was caught in 2013 in Mississippi during an annual hunting tournament.Full Answer >
The alligator exhibits many adaptations, including its camouflaged hide, webbed toes, large tail and well-placed eyes and nostrils. The muscular jaws and sharp teeth enable the alligator to grip prey and tear apart flesh.Full Answer >
The mating season of the American alligator typically lasts from April to June. During this time, the overall activity level of alligators increases. Mother alligators move to build nests, while juvenile alligators try to avoid encounters with adult alligators because adult alligators are known to occasionally kill juveniles.Full Answer >
The longest alligator was 19 feet and the weight was not recorded; the record is located in Louisiana.The Huffington Post announced an Arkansas record of 14 feet and 1,100 pounds in 2013. By length the biggest alligator is 19 feet, but by recorded weight the Arkansas alligator is the largest.Full Answer >