Chinese Alligator

(Alligator sinensis)




Facts about this animal

The Chinese alligator has a rather short and bluntly rounded snout, which is 1 to 1.3 times as long as broad at the level of the front corners of the eyes. There is an incomplete ridge between the front corners of the eyes across the basis of the snout and some feeble longitudinal ridges extend from the eyes nearly to the nasal swelling. The upper body colour is dark olive with yellow spots, arranged in crossbars in youngsters. The lower surface is uniformly light without black blotches. The iris is brownish. The length of the animal is up to 2.1 m, but usually about 1.5 m.

Did you know?
that, despite their timid nature, Chinese alligators have historical associations with the mythical Chinese dragon? Yet this has not saved this species from human impact. The Chinese alligator has become one of the two most endangered crocodilian species!


Name (Scientific) Alligator sinensis
Name (English) Chinese Alligator
Name (French) Alligator de Chine
Name (German) China-Alligator
Name (Spanish) Aligator de China
CITES Status Appendix I
CMS Status Not listed



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Range China
Habitat Slow-moving freshwater rivers and streams, lakes, ponds and swamps
Wild population Only about 150 animals can be found distributed over the chinese province of Anhui. Besides the destruction of its habitat, illegal hunting activities are responsible for the catastrophic situation of the species in its home range.
Zoo population 156 reported to ISIS (2005)

In the Zoo

Chinese 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
Berthold Werner

Why do zoos keep this animal

The Chinese alligator is a flagship-species for the extremely threatened marsh zones in the south-eastern part of the PR of China and probably the most endangered crocodilian in the wild. Therefore breeding this species for conservation purposes is of utmost importance. With a view of building up a reserve population, an International Studbook has been established under the WAZA and EAZA umbrellas, and coordinated conservation breeding programmes are operated at the regional level.


Alligator sinensis is not a large crocodilian and therefore can also be kept by smaller zoos with limited space and budget.