An alligator is a crocodilian in the genus Alligator of the family Alligatoridae. The two extant species are the American alligator and the Chinese alligator. American alligator’s weights and lengths are 360 kg and 4 m, but they sometimes grow to 4.4 m long and weigh over 450 kg. The largest ever recorded, found in Louisiana, measured 5.84 m. The Chinese alligator is smaller, rarely exceeding 2.1 m in length. Additionally, it weighs considerably less, with males rarely over 45 kg.
Adult alligators are black or dark olive-brown with white undersides, while juveniles have bright yellow or whitish stripes which sharply contrast against their dark hides, providing them additional camouflage amongst reeds and wetland grasses.
They are differentiated from crocodiles by the form of their jaw and teeth. Alligators possess a broad U-shaped snout and have an “overbite”; that is, all the teeth of the lower jaw fit within the teeth of the upper jaw. The large fourth tooth on each side of the alligator’s lower jaw fits into a socket in the upper jaw. Usually, no lower teeth are visible when the mouth is closed. In contrast, true crocodiles have a narrow V-shaped snout, and the large fourth tooth on each side of the lower jaw projects outside the snout when the mouth is closed. Alligators are carnivorous and live along the edges of permanent bodies of water, such as lakes, swamps, and rivers. They commonly dig burrows in which they rest and avoid weather extremes.
Lifespan of Alligator
The average life span of alligators is about 50 years in the wild. However, there have been reports of some specimens living beyond 70 years of age in captivity. Crocodiles live longer than alligators. The average lifespan of a crocodile is between 70-100 years, while the average lifespan of an alligator is usually between 30-50 years. If you take an airboat tour of the Everglades with Everglades Holiday Park, the airboat captains may be able to point out some crocodiles they have seen for years and years.