Alligators Essay

2659 words - 11 pages

The American alligator scientific name is Alligator mississippiensis. The Chinese alligator is the only other alligator in the alligator family and its scientific name is alligator sinensis. The American alligator is in the kingdom Animalia because it is an animal. The phylum is chordate because it has vertebrae. The American alligator is in the class reptilia because it is cold blooded, lays shelled eggs, scaly skin and breaths air. Alligators are in the order crocodilian because it is a large animal that appeared during the Cambrian stage. The American alligator is in the family alligator idea because it has larger, broader snouts, and can withstand colder temperatures. The genus is alligator and the species is Mississippiensis (Florida nature,2006).
The American alligators have many physical characteristics. Their size ranges from six to twelve feet. A full grown male can weigh up to one thousand and two hundred pounds. The American alligator has a long round snout with nostrils at the end. An alligator has two eyes towards the top of its head. Also alligators have a long thin body that has four legs and a long tail (EDIS, 2009)
The American alligator lives in wetlands in southeastern United States from North Carolina to Texas. Wetlands are areas of standing water such as bogs, swamps, ponds, and marshes. Alligators mostly live in fresh water wetlands, but sometimes alligators live in brackish water. Brackish water is water that has more saline or salt water than fresh water. Alligators can’t live in salt water because they do not have an effective salt gland. American alligators live in temperate climate with cold winters and warm summers. The average temperature is 50 degree Fahrenheit a year and 40 to 60 inches of rainfall a year.
Alligators live in different parts of wetlands based on gender, weather, and size. Large male adult alligators prefer to live in deep open water*. While large female alligators mostly live on the shoreline to protect young, but females are found in open water to breed. Small alligators that are four to five feet long live in wetlands with a lot of plant life for protection. (Thomas, 2010)
During droughts, Alligators live in alligator holes. Alligator holes are holes that are made by alligators using their tail and feet to dig that can be up to twenty feet long. Alligator holes provide many species with water that can’t be found anywhere else. In return alligators get an easy place to find food. This type of symbiotic relationship is mutualism because both animal benefit. Another symbiotic relationship is alligator and herons. The heron benefits from building its nest near alligators because it protects them from predators such as raccoons and tree snakes. Since one organism benefits from this relationship it is commensalisms (shortor, 1999).
During the winter alligators do not hibernate, they brumate. Brumate is a reaction to the cold temperature by slowing down metabolic activity. Alligators can live in...

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