Photo Ark: American Alligator

Photo Ark: American Alligator

See You Later, Alligator! How the American Alligator Bounced Back


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Biology, Conservation, Geography

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American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) live in soggy places in the southeastern United States. They can be found in rivers, swamps, marshes, and lakes as far west as Texas, as far north as North Carolina, and down to the Everglades in the southern tip of Florida. American alligators have dark, thick skin that is armored with scales. They are built for life in the water. The reptile has webbed feet and a powerful tail that propels it through the water. As predators of fish, smaller reptiles, birds, and mammals, alligators keep the food chain healthy and balanced. They also dig burrows that become drinking holes and nurseries for other wetland animals.

In the 1950s, the American alligator faced extinction for two reasons. The first was overhunting for its prized skin, which people desired for purses, boots, and belts. At the same time, developers drained the wetlands where alligators lived to build homes and cities. In 1967, the American alligator was listed as endangered. Thanks to conservation efforts, including new alligator farms and hunting bans, alligators recovered. By 1987, they were removed from the endangered species list and have stayed strong since. People can continue to protect these reptiles by conserving and restoring the waterways and wetland habitats that alligators need to survive.

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Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Corinne Rucker, National Geographic Society
Sara Nachtigal, Ph.D., Educurious
Hanna Jaramillo, M.S. Ed., Educurious
Latia White, Ed.D., Inclusive Innovation Researcher, Global Inclusive Learning Design Reviewer
Rights Clearance
Jean Cantu, National Geographic Society
Production Managers
Margot Willis, National Geographic Society
Patrick Cavanagh, National Geographic Society
Clint Parks
Last Updated

March 5, 2024

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