Species of the Month
Description Large reptile with thick limbs, broad head, and powerful tail that accounts for half of their length. Adults are dark gray to nearly black above and dull white or pale yellow below. Hatchlings and juveniles are black above with six to nine yellow crossbands down the middle of back and yellow vertical bards on the sides of their body and tail.
Size Adult females usually <9’, males usually <14’, hatchlings usually 8.1-10.4”
Habitat Usually found in permanent wetlands and slow-moving rivers, but may also occur in swamps, ditches, temporarily flooded depressions, marshes, and lakes.
Diet Young alligators feed on aquatic insects, crawfish, small fish, and frogs. Adults feed on fish, frogs, turtles, waterfowl, wading birds, and small mammals.
Distribution and Status Alligators occur statewide and their population in Louisiana is estimated at >1.5 million. The species was listed under the ESA as endangered in 1967 due to overhunting, but their numbers recovered in many areas and the American alligator was removed from the list of endangered species in 1987.
Fun facts Alligators have between 74 and 80 teeth at any given time and can replace >2,000 teeth in their lifetimes. Alligators can use tools (e.g., sticks, branches) to lure in their prey. Alligators are quite vocal and have different calls to defend their territories, signal distress, and find mates.