American Alligator

American Alligator

Alligator mississippiensis


These powerful swimmers rarely leave the water except to lay eggs.

Exhibit Name and Location:
Washington, DC - National Marine Sanctuaries and National Parks Gallery

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American Alligator American Alligator American Alligator American Alligator American Alligator

American Alligator

The American alligator is a large, primarily aquatic crocodilian with a large head and a large, powerful keeled tail.

Alligators have 80–100 teeth. When teeth wear down, new teeth grow in. An alligator may go through 2,000–3,000 teeth in a lifetime.

American Alligator Facts


Young American alligators eat a wide variety of small mammals and invertebrates, transitioning to primarily fish and turtles as adults.


Alligators typically grow to a length of 6–16 feet, and males are usually larger than females.


Southeast United States, from Texas to North Carolina

Population Status

The American alligator was once nearly extinct. In the 1970s, strict hunting regulations were put in place to protect the remaining alligators, and they are no longer endangered.


As young, they are preyed upon by large fish, birds, crocodiles, and even other alligators. As adults, they have no natural predators.

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Jack Cover
General Curator

pressroom striped fish

As the General Curator, Jack's role is to ensure that our living animal collections are thriving and diverse, to best exhibit the beauty of the wild habitats we represent here at the Aquarium. Learn More

A Note From the Caretaker

Our alligators are target trained for feeding. Typically, we have one alligator that is trained to respond to a yellow target and one that is trained to respond to a red target. When they touch the appropriate target they get a food reward. This makes feeding a lot safer for the animal care staff as well as for the alligators, and also ensures that each animal is getting the right amount of food.

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