In short, this is a bad, bad animal. From the dinosaur like ridges along its back and tail to the jaws that wield thousands of pounds of pressure to the 80 plus teeth that regenerate, everything about this animal alerts humans to not mess with it. Adult males can be in excess of 14' in length, weigh anywhere from 400 to 1000 pounds and reach speeds in short distances of about 30 mph! The alligator uses its tail to propel itself in the water as well as to quickly rotate itself while doing its patented death roll. A death roll is when an alligator latches on to its prey, drags it to open water and spins furiously to drown as well as rip apart its victim. Did I mention this is a bad, bad animal? Its legs are short and stubby and its feet are webbed. Younger ‘gators look very much like the adults except for a yellow cross-band on their back. One of their few weaknesses is that their jaw muscles are made to shut, not open. Even though alligators can crush bones in single bites, humans can keep an alligators mouth shut with their bare hands. Keeping the animal still is an entirely different issue so I wouldn't suggest running down to your local swamp to test this physical phenomenon. There are also albino alligators. If you ever lucky enough to see one in the wild, after you've cleaned your shorts, make sure you buy a lotto ticket that day as well. The sun and predators make survival very difficult for this alligator variation to survive outside of captivity.
Fresh or brackish waters are where the alligators love to live. They'll also sunbathe or bask on land during the day not too far from the water's edge. During dry years or droughts they can be found farther and farther from their natural habitat because they are trying to find new homes.
Plain and simple, if it has meat, it's fair game. Alligators love to hide in the water and pounce on their prey when they come to get a drink. But will also feed on fish and shell fish in their habitat. Often alligator food is rodents and small animals, but can be larger animals such as deer. Unfortunately, even people's pets that stray too close to the water's edge can get gobbled up. Residents of areas known to inhabit alligators are warned to never let their children be alone close to bodies of water, even pools! That being said, alligator attacks on humans aren't common, only 16 confirmed deaths since 1948 have taken place in Florida, one of the few states with alligators. Bottom line though, they're a bit more dangerous than squirrels.
Alligators can only be found in the south-eastern states, and are highly regulated when it comes to hunting. The tags can be pricing, but more restrictive is the amount of tags that are released. If you're lucky enough to ever have the opportunity to alligator hunting, don't pass it up. Not only is it unlike any other hunt you've seen, but it's not easy to get the opportunity.
Alligator meat is considered healthier than domestic chicken because of the lower content of cholesterol and fat. Like most animals, there is white and dark meat from the tail and mid-section. The feet-meat (alligator wings) is also desired by some people because of their strong flavor. Overall the texture of the meat is similar to veal.
One of the most interesting things about alligators is their breeding practices. In April and May male alligators will begin to bellow and slap their heads against the water in order to attract females and warn other males away. Shortly after the courtship females can produce 25-50 eggs which are held in nests of mud and rotting vegetation. This is the period of time when alligators are most aggressive. Males are able to start reproducing when they're about 6 years old and can live up to 35 years of age in the wild. Normally they are timid around humans and will run away or slip back into the water if you encounter them. But, much like the jaw opening, I wouldn't suggest putting this practice to too much use. Larger and older males are extremely territorial meaning you won't see a whole lot of them together. Younger males are more accepting of like alligators being in close proximity. They are nocturnal animals and are most active from dusk to dawn.
You must select a state from the menu above to view regulations.