posted: 04/29/14
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Allow me to introduce Myself: I'm an Alligator!

Where You'll Most Likely Find Me: China and the United States. The American alligator can be found in warm wetlands in states in the southeast region of the U.S.

What I Like to Eat: We love the taste of other animals. Birds, fish, snails, frogs, and mammals like deer that wander across our path, are no match for our prowess. If we are hungry enough, even humans can be added to our dining list. We swallow our prey whole. If it's too large, we shake it or tear it apart into pieces easy enough for us to swallow. In the wild, we only need to eat about once a week to survive.

Betcha Didn't Know This About Me: We have about 80 teeth in our mouth at any given time, and they get replaced when they are worn down. An alligator can end up with 2,000 to 3,000 teeth during its lifetime.

Alligator v Crocodiles: We are not crocodiles, we are alligators. So how can you tell the two apart? First of all, crocodiles are way more aggressive than us. Secondly, look at our teeth (if you dare to get that close). We have a large fourth tooth in our lower jaw that fits into the socket of our upper jaw. Crocodiles don't have this. Finally, crocodiles are a lighter color than us.

Size: This goes without saying, but we are huge cold-blooded reptiles. The average alligator weighs about 200 pounds, but countless gators have been recorded as weighing in between 600 to 1,000 pounds.

On the Hunt: TV shows like "Swamp People" has increased the public's fascination with gator hunts. Hunting is legal in certain states during the fall. Yes, you can hunt us, but you can believe that we won't go down without a fight. We're pretty fast on land, and once we get in the water, we are able to submerge for long periods of time to get away.

Our Biggest Threat: Years ago, we faced extinction. But conservationists and state and federal protections have afforded our population to not only grow again, but to thrive. In fact, there are more than one million of us.

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