American Alligator

Scientific Name: Alligator mississippiensis

Michael Dougherty, Ding Darling NWR, Florida
American alligator at Ding Darling NWR | Michael Dougherty


American alligators live in wetlands throughout the southeastern United States and are especially common in Florida and Louisiana.

Refuges where the American alligator can be found:


Alligator populations in the Southeast were decimated by decades of hunting and habitat loss, and in 1967 the animal was added to the federal endangered species list.  Thanks to the combined efforts of governmental wildlife agencies, the alligator recovered dramatically and in 1987 it was removed from the endangered species list. More than a million alligators can be found today in Florida, Louisiana, Texas and Georgia. Although they are no longer hunted for their hides, alligators still face threats today, primarily from habitat loss and encounters with people.


American AlligatorA reptile found only in the southeastern United States, the alligator is instantly recognizable for it prehistoric and intimidating features.  Adult males can stretch as long as 15 feet and weigh 800 pounds. The alligator uses its massive tail (which takes up half of its body length) to propel itself in water, and to defend itself.

The alligator travels quickly in water but is generally slow on land. It can hold its breath under water for several hours if necessary by reducing circulation to its lungs.  The alligator preys on a wide variety of animals, including snakes, mammals, amphibians, fish, birds and invertebrates.

What NWRA is doing:

The Greater Everglades is home not only to such iconic species as the American alligator, but also to the endangered Florida panther, the black bear and wide variety of birds including the Everglades snail kite, the Florida scrub jay and the crested carcara. As part of our Beyond the Boundaries program, NWRA is working with a wide variety of partners to protect this crucial and unique habitat. Learn more.


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