American Alligator

(Alligator mississippiensis)


American Alligator IUCN LEAST CONCERN (LC)


Facts about this animal

The snout of the American Alligator is rather long and broad, more than 1.5 times as long as broad at the level of the front corners of the eyes. The surface is nearly smooth, without transversal or longitudinal ridges or elevated areas in the front of the eyes. The upper surface of the body is blackish olive, in youngsters with yellow crossbars. The lower surface is uniformly light, without dark blotches. The iris is greenish. The length is up to 6 m, but usually about 3.5 m.

Did you know?
that the alligator became the official state reptile of Florida in 1987? As of today, Florida hosts a multi-million dollar industry in which alligators are raised in farms for the production of meat and skin. Also, alligators are a tourist attraction, especially where visitors are allow to feed them.


Name (Scientific) Alligator mississippiensis
Name (English) American Alligator
Name (French) Alligator américain
Name (German) Mississippi-Alligator
Name (Spanish) Aligator del Mississippi
Local names USA: Gator
CITES Status Appendix II
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Matthew Field



Range USA
Habitat Freshwater swamps and marshes, rivers, lakes and smaller bodies of water
Wild population Approx. > 1'000'000. Widely distributed
Zoo population 1544 reported to ISIS

In the Zoo

American Alligator


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 42 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Why do zoos keep this animal

The American alligator is not threatened with extinction in the wild. Zoos therefore keep "gators" primarily for educational purposes and as an ambassador species for their threatened freshwater habitats. Alligator mississippiensis is a large animal which is characterized by a rather low addressivity and easy handling despite its impressive size. This and its relative insensibility to short-time low temperatures turn the American Alligator into a popular and attractive crocodilian for exhibition purposes in zoos, where it represents a flagship species for its habitat, the endangered marsh zones in the south east of the USA. TheCentral and Southern Florida (C&SF) Project, which was first authorized by Congress in 1948, provided flood control, and water supply for municipal, industrial, and agricultural uses, which all had a detrimental effect on the alligators habitats. Recently a Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) has been adopted with the aim of restoring these habitats by capturing fresh water that now flows unused to the ocean and the gulf and redirect it to areas that need it most.