American alligators are large aquatic reptiles with strong jaws, armor-like bodies and muscular tails.

They typically live in freshwater habitats like slow-moving rivers, swamps, marshes and lakes, and can only tolerate saltwater for brief periods. They’re carnivorous and can swallow small prey (such as fish, snails and frogs) whole; they use their sharp teeth to seize larger prey and shake it apart into more digestible pieces. In the wild, alligators can live to be about 50 years old.

Baby alligator in the wild
Alligators deserve respect and protection.

Though no longer considered endangered, alligators are still listed as a federally “threatened” species because of their similarities to crocodiles (who are endangered). Alligators also face threats to their natural habitat being destroyed or degraded by human development and from the highly unregulated and illegal trade in exotic skins.

Adult alligator emerging from the water in the Everglades
Mark Kostich
Did you know?

Alligators are sometimes confused with crocodiles (who are far less numerous), but you can tell them apart by their teeth. Unlike crocodiles, alligators have no lower teeth visible when their mouths are closed.

Scared yellow dog left out in the rain and mud

For every animal saved, countless others are still suffering. By stepping up for them, you can create a future where animals no longer have to suffer in puppy mills, factory farms, testing labs or other heartbreaking situations. Start saving lives today!

Kathy Milani / The HSUS