Alligators are awesome reptiles and real super-survivors!
Here are more fun facts about alligators:
Alligators help wetlands like the Everglades. How?
- During dry periods, alligators dig holes in the ground.
- These gator holes then fill in with water.
- Gator holes are a great source of water and food for lots of animals, including turtles, fish, frogs, and wading birds.
How else do alligators help wetlands during dry spells?
- They make wide paths through grasses as they walk.
- These become creek beds.
- The creek beds let much-needed water flow into the dry land.
- Alligators have excellent hearing and eyesight.
- They see especially well at night.
- And they're great at finding meals in dark, murky water.
- Their snouts have special organs that help them smell well, too.
- When diving underwater, an alligator’s nostrils and ears close up.
- It can hold its breath below the surface for more than an hour.
- A gator mom builds a mound-shaped nest of leaves and branches and scrapes a hole out in the middle.
- She lays 20 to 70 eggs in the hole. Then she covers it over again.
- As the leaves and branches rot, they give off enough heat to keep the eggs warm.
- Some kinds of turtles, snakes, and lizards often lay their eggs in alligator nests.
- So their eggs are guarded by a gator mom—often, it seems, without the other animals knowing it.
- Mom watches out for her young for a few months or so, until they are old enough to be on their own.
Birthing baby gators
- When baby alligators are ready to hatch out of their eggs, they call out with grunting noises.
- Hearing these sounds, a gator mom will tear open the nest.
- She may lift each egg into her mouth. Then she may press the egg against the roof of her mouth.
- That cracks the shell and releases the young.
- Once all of the babies are hatched, a mom often carries them to the water.
Hanging out with Mom
- Gator babies often rest on a mom’s head or back.
- Alligators don’t chew their food.
- They tear off chunks from large prey, then swallow these whole.
- With small prey, they gulp it down all at once!
- Scientists digging in China have recently discovered the fossil of an ancestor of alligators and crocodiles. It’s named Junggarsuchus.
- This ancient beast lived on dry land and not in the water.
- It walked on tall legs—not short squat ones.
- But Junggarsuchus had one thing in common with modern alligators: A super-strong jaw.