Into The Life of Alligators:
Information taken from http://www.crocsite.com/crocsite-articles/alligator-attacks.htm
Alligators belong to the family Alligatoria, in the genus Alligator and are closely related to Crocodile. The name Alligator is an anglicized form of Spanish el lagarto according to alligator facts .
They are now just two living Alligators species; the American Alligator, (Alligator mississippiensis) the largest alligator and the Chinese Alligator (Alligator sinensi). These living dinosaurs are very amazing animals and have survived since the last million years, due to their nature which makes them adaptable to the environment. Here are some facts about alligators.
Alligators' have the ability to survive without eating for two or three years.
They are protective and caring of their young.
They have very sensitive vibration sensors on their skin with the help of which they can detect even the slightest vibration and get out of danger.
Alligator attacks have claimed many human lives.
On the other hand Alligators can be quite dangerous too and will eat any thing that comes in its way. American Alligators are found in warmer, wetter areas of southeastern United States from Texas to North Carolina whereas China Alligators are nearly extinct and are just restricted to a few Southern Provinces of China.
Features of Alligators
Alligators are armor-plated. They have bony plates inside the alligator skin, called osteoderms or scutes, which make the skin very hard to penetrate. In the ridges on the back of an alligator, there are little spikes and each spike is made by a piece of bone in that section of skin. Inside the skut, is a bone that helps it to be protected from attacks.
Alligators have yellow banding color which turns olive brown and black in old age. Their areas around the jaws, on the neck and belly are creamy white, their ventral surface is pale, but most scales especially near the tail are black. Their upper jaw is wider than lower jaw, and has 80 teeth. Lower teeth are mostly hidden when the mouth is closed and fit into sockets in the upper jaw. Western Alligators have white speckling around the jaws, with pale coloration on their bodies and tails. An alligator's brain weighs only 8 or 9 grams.
They have two sets of eyelids. The outer lids are made of skin and close top-to-bottom, the inner lids are clear and close back-to-front. The inner eyelids give protective cover to eyes both inside and outside the water and also provide clear vision under water.
Alligators have four legs and webbed feet and tail, which propel it to swim. They also have flaps, which close the ears and nostrils when they are in water, and a special flap called palatal valve, which closes at the back of the throat to keep water out of their stomach and lungs. Alligators can stay underwater for longer time and in very cold water, can stay up to eight hours submerged.
Since Alligators are cold-blooded, they have very small lungs, so they use anaerobic respiratory system to give power to their muscles. Large alligators can exert themselves for 30 minutes only before they are completely exhausted and then they have to take rest for several hours to come back to normal.
When on land, they can run relatively fast, with a top speed of 11 MPH (17 KPH) over short distances.
Alligators live in freshwater swamps, marshes, rivers, lakes and smaller bodies of water. They can also be seen in brackish water around mangrove swamps. When temperature falls, they will build burrows for shelter and can modify it by giving it a shape of 'alligator holes', which are also called as gator holes. These holes provide refuge and sufficient water for other animals too during dry periods.
What do Alligator Eat
Alligators are basically lurkers. They will wait for their prey to swim or walk near it at one place in a single posture for a long period. Only their eyes and nostrils are visible above waterline and at a pond's edge, it becomes impossible to detect them, and when the opportunity arrives, without sparing a single moment, they jump at their prey with an incredible speed. With the help of their tail, they will also grab their prey hanging in low-lying branches.
Alligators eat fish, turtles, frogs, birds, small mammals, and sometimes even larger mammals like deer. Their young eat small invertebrates, particularly insects, small fish and frogs. If small dogs and other pets come near them, they are not spared also from alligator attacks.
Alligator roles underwater with its large prey submerging and drowning it and then it is shaken vigorously and slapped against the water or shore to rip it off into pieces. Usually dead prey is dragged around and guarded for several days until the meat rots enough to be ripped apart.
Using its incredibly powerful jaws, an alligator will break bones or crush shells to create a chunk of flesh that can fit down its throat. Then it will raise its head, open the palatal valve and swallow the whole piece. They can easily digest anything even muscles, bone, cartilage, etc.
Alligators, being cold-blooded, do not have to eat very often. Once a week is a typical feeding schedule for all alligators. The Extra calories are stored in fat deposits at the base of the alligator's tail, which can allow them to stay without food for longer period of time.
Alligators can even survive freezing conditions. In freezing rivers, they will rise above the surface, to breathe through the ice as it forms. In extreme cases, they get frozen into the surface of the pond for several days and then swim free when the ice melts.