The American alligator lives predominantly in freshwater ponds and marshes, but also in smaller rivers, lakes, and streams. They can tolerate a reasonable degree of salinity for a short time, and have been found in the brackish waters of mangrove swamps.
In any case, they lack salt excretory glands. A feature of the Mississippi alligator is the large fourth lower tooth that fits into a pit in the upper jaw. It can be found in Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas.
The body is practically the same as that of the other loricates, and the snout is that characteristic of the other alligatorids, enlarged. The width varies according to the populations. Captive animals have significantly larger jaws than wild animals, possibly due to differences in diet.
When the mouth is closed, the edges of the lower jaw cover the upper teeth, the tips of which are housed in special cavities. A penal arc is present, similar to that found in other alligatorids. Their bite, as with all crocodiles, is one of the strongest in nature.
The alligator can exert a jaw pressure of 400 kg/cm² for a force of 16,000 N, six times higher than that generated by a great white shark or a tiger.
The secrets of the American alligator
The jaws snap shut in about 20 hundredths of a second, with a speed of the order of 380 km/h.
In proportion to its weight, its bite force is similar to that of other crocodilians, including caimans and gharials. This allows him to break any bone and instantly break the shell of molluscs and even large turtles. The American alligator occurs in the wild in the wild but is also raised by humans for the purpose of obtaining meat for food and skin.
The mississippiensis alligator skin is in fact considered of great value by the fashion and luxury industry, which uses it for the production of shoes, bags, briefcases and suitcases. Adults prey on virtually any animal that approaches their hunting grounds, including other small alligators, as well as fish and amphibians.
They do not hesitate to attack livestock, such as cows and horses, which they kill thanks to their very powerful bite or by dragging them into the water in a death grip. There have been documented cases of alligators successfully preying on adult jaguars and black bears; this behavior depends a lot on the area, with areas where it is infrequent also due to lack of interaction and areas where it is almost normal.
Since they often come into contact with anthropized areas, it can happen that they capture pets such as dogs or cats. There have also been cases of attacks on children and adults, especially when provoked. In many areas they are fed by humans, a behavior that encourages them to become familiar, becoming potentially dangerous.
Like all loricates, they are opportunists and do not disdain to feed on carrion if they are hungry. The feeding activity is controlled by the water temperature and is suspended if the temperature drops below 20-23°.