This paper will discuss alligators. It will cover kinds of alligators, their habitat, their food and hunting, breeding, the value of their meat and skin, and the dangers of an alligator. There are two kinds of alligators.
The first kind of alligator there is, is the Alligator Mississippiensis or the American Alligator. The American Alligator is the largest of all members of the crocodile family. It has a large body, thick limbs, a broad head, and a muscular tail. It can also weigh up to 500 pounds (Mathewson 12). They are poikilothermic or cold-blooded, which means their body temperature moves up and down according to the temperature of their environment. They have no fur or feathers to keep themselves warm(Mathewson 13).
The American Alligators habitat is not all uncommon with other reptiles. The alligator spends all time in or around water. In some areas were water level fluctuates, the alligator will dig a hallow in the mud, which will become filled with water. This technique guarantees the alligators access to water at all times and also provides other animals with water. The temperature is also stable so the alligator can avoid the extremes of the winter and summer. The holes can be as long as 65 feet long and 6 feet wide (Alligator 228). Alligators eat a wide variety of food.
The young alligators feed on insects, shrimp, tadpoles, and frogs ( Alligators 2). As they mature they eat small fish and snakes. When the alligator is almost fully grown their diet is entirely fish. But when they become an adult they will eat just about anything. The American Alligator mostly hunts when he/she is an adult. When they do, they hunt prey that live in the water, unless threatened, they rarely attack humans (Mathewson 14). Alligators are hunted for skins as well.
Alligators are hunted for their skins and meat just like other animals. Today alligators may be harvested during a very limited, controlled hunt. The meat is typically sold to restaurants for 5 to 7 dollars a pound, and the skins are typically sold to clothing manufacturers for about 25 dollars a foot. But the killing of alligators have rapidly decreased in popularity since the mid-twentieth century (The Virtual Zoo 4). The alligators only mate in the months of April and May.
For the alligators the mating takes place at night in shallow water. The bulls roar loudly to attract the females and to scare the other males away. The males start to swim in circles around the female, until finally coming up alongside her. Then finally, he grips her in his jaws and places his limbs over her body ( Alligators 6). The female lays eggs in her nest twenty-five to sixty days after mating. After depositing the eggs she covers the nest with vegetation. As the vegetation matter starts to rot, it gives off heat, which helps to incubate the eggs (Mathewson 16). The eggs are very vulnerable right now; a rise in the water level could flood the nest and kill all of the eggs (Mathewson 17). The eggs hatch two to three months later. The female stays close to the nest for protection. As they hatch they send out a high pitched croak to tell the female to open the nest. When hatched they are eight inches long and completely independent. The babies do not reach maturity until six years old (Mathewson 18).
The second kind of alligator is the Alligator Sinensis or the Chinese Alligator. The Chinese Alligator is lesser-known compared to it s larger American counterpart. It is only found in the lower Yangtze River valley of eastern China. It has a length of about 1.5 meters (five feet). The average life span of a Chinese Alligator is fifty years ( The Virtual Zoo 4). All of the other characteristics of the American Alligator apply to the Chinese Alligator as well. You can never be too careful around any kind of alligator though.
Alligators that are six feet or longer present a bigger hazard, then any other kind or size of alligator. But a bite from any alligator could result in a serious infection ( Alligator 229). If you should encounter an alligator:
You should not approach an alligator closely. The alligators need a measure of respect.
If an alligator posses a serious threat call the Game and Fresh Water Commission.
In conclusion, alligators are a magnificent reptile and should be respected. But on the other hand alligators could also be a fierce and very dangerous reptile. I hope that you will respect alligators and enjoy their fascinating ways of life.