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alligator, large aquatic reptile of the genus Alligator, in the same order as the crocodile. There are two species—a large type found in the S United States and a small type found in E China. Alligators differ from crocodiles in several ways. They have broader, blunter snouts, which give their heads a triangular appearance; also, the lower fourth tooth does not protrude when the mouth is closed, as it does in the crocodile.

The American alligator, Alligator mississipiensis, is found in swamps and sluggish streams from North Carolina to Florida and along the Gulf Coast. When young, it is dark brown or black with yellow transverse bands. The bands fade as the animal grows, and the adult is black. Males commonly reach a length of 10 to 13 ft (3 to 4 m) and an average weight of 500 lbs (225 kg); females are smaller (8.2 ft/2.6 m). Males 18 ft (5.4 m) long were once fairly common, but intensive hunting for alligator leather eliminated larger individuals and threatened the species as a whole. The wild American alligator is now protected by law, but it is also raised on farms for commercial uses.

Alligators spend the day floating just below the surface of the water or resting on the bank, lying in holes in hot weather. They hunt by night, in the water and on the bank. Young alligators feed on water insects, crustaceans, frogs, and fish; as they grow they catch proportionally larger animals. Large alligators may occasionally capture deer and cows as they come to drink; they do not commonly attack humans. Alligators hibernate from October to March. In summer the female builds a nest of rotting vegetation on the bank and deposits in it 20 to 70 eggs, which she guards for 9 to 10 weeks until they hatch.

The Chinese alligator, A. sinensis, which grows to about 6 ft (1.8 m) long, is found in the Chang (Yangtze) River valley near Shanghai. This species is nearly extinct. Caimans are similar, but distinct members of the Alligatoridae family found in Central and South America. There are several species, classified in three genera. The largest grow up to 15 ft (4.8 m) long. Unlike alligators, caimans have bony overlapping scales on their bellies. Baby caimans are often sold in the United States as baby alligators.

Alligators and caimans are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Reptilia, order Crocodilia, family Alligatoridae.

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(vertebrate zoology)
Either of two species of archosaurian reptiles in the genus Alligator of the family Alligatoridae.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. a large crocodilian, Alligator mississipiensis, of the southern US, having powerful jaws and sharp teeth and differing from the crocodiles in having a shorter and broader snout: family Alligatoridae (alligators and caymans)
2. a similar but smaller species, A. sinensis, occurring in China near the Yangtse River
3. any crocodilian belonging to the family Alligatoridae
4. any of various tools or machines having adjustable toothed jaws, used for gripping, crushing, or compacting
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


This cold-blooded animal could hold several different meanings in your dream. It could symbolically represent something from your memory, emotions, or a current situation or individual in your life. Some think that the alligator represents verbal power used in a destructive way (angry and hurtful words). Others believe that it represents an enemy. Consider the details in your dream and your level of fear. This dream symbol should encourage you to look at some of your more “dangerous” emotions, memories, and experiences. The alligators in your dreams will begin to lose the power to frighten you as your understanding increases. Carl Jung said that all wild animals indicate latent affects (feelings and emotions that we do not readily deal with). They are also symbolic of dangers (hurtful and negative things) being “swallowed” by the unconscious.
Bedside Dream Dictionary by Silvana Amar Copyright © 2007 by Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Determinate growth and reproductive lifespan in the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis): evidence from long-term recaptures.
Table 1-Prevalence, mean intensity, and median intensity for lungs (Pentastomid), stomach (Nematode), and intestinal (Nematode, Trematode, and Acanthostomid) parasites of American alligators across Texas, Florida, Louisiana West (LAW), and Louisiana East (LAE) locations.
geese turkeys mares (0.22 L/ h/kg) and gorals (0.19 L/ h/kg) were larger than those of lower animals including catfish (0.17 L/ h/kg) brown trouts (0.14 L/ h/kg) American alligators (0.047 L/ h/kg) and carassius auratus gibelios (0.04 L/ h/kg); to the contrary the t1/2z of higher animals were less than that of lower animals.
Today, everyone will appreciate its function as a barrier to the creatures residing in the Swamp below: snapping turtles and American alligators (including an eye-catching albino).
We used a full factorial logistic regression to estimate the probability that adult American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) were infected with the ascarid nematode Dujardinascaris waltoni given the alligators' physical characteristics and stomach contents.
Dr Marchant is one of a team of US scientists in Louisiana now working to develop antibacterial drugs, pills and creams following extensive studies of American alligators.
With Burmese pythons as well-documented predators of American alligators in ENP (Snow et al.
Under this designation, which is intended to protect other listed species that bear a resemblance, commercial take of American alligators is regulated by the states, while export of tagged skins or hides falls under federal jurisdiction.
JULY 18-NOV 27 Humpbacked whales sing, red backed salamanders sniff, American alligators blow bubblesxI these are just some of the fascinating courting ploys to be found in the animal world.
Other than its poster child status, what makes American alligators so important to Florida?
Recent evidence suggests that American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) may be capable of transmitting West Nile virus (WNV) to other alligators.

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