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American Alligator

The American Alligator is an amazing reptile, having survived almost unchanged since the time of the dinosaurs. Having been hunted almost for extinction, this reptile has made an amazing comeback in recent years. Inhabiting almost every body of water in Florida. American alligator are not considered endangered species, but these harsh looking creatures are threatened.
There are two kinds of species of alligators. There is the American alligator and the Chinese alligator. Many people have a hard time telling the difference between alligators and crocodiles. Alligators are related in the same family as the crocodile, but these two animals are very different. An alligators upper jaw overlaps the lower jaw. Alligators have a broad snout while crocodile have a very narrow snout. Alligators have much less aggressive and energetic than the crocodiles. Alligators live in tropical climates and crocodiles live in somewhat colder climates. Their kingdom is Animalia. Their Phylum is Chordata. They come from the class Reptilia. Their order is Crocodylia. Their family is Alligatoridae. Their genus is Alligator and their species is alligator messissipiensis and they are known as American alligators.
American alligators are found through southern United States. Large populations are found in Florida, New Orleans, Louisiana and Georgia. They inhabit primarily fresh water to brackish water areas, although they can occasionally be found in salt water. However, alligators lack the salt-extracting glands of crocodiles and are unable to survive in salt water for extended periods of time. They can be found in swamps, rivers, reservoirs, lakes, ponds, marshes, and drainage canals. Alligators are a ferocious predator. Alligators are carnivorous reptiles whose primary feeding time is usually at night. Small alligators will eat snails, frogs, insects, and small fish. Larger gators will eat birds, fish, turtles, snakes, waterfowls, small mammals, and even smaller alligators.
The American alligator population is continued to diminish today. They are mainly threatened in the state of Florida. Loss, fragmentation, and degradation of forests have been a major factors in the decline of the alligator population in this century, with illegal killing playing an increasingly damaging role as alligators have become more vulnerable: no refugees remain safe from human penetration. Habitat loss remains a great danger, particularly in state of Florida. A gator is prized for its hide and meat. The hide of the gator is considered fine and durable leather; used for belts, watch bands, boots, wallets, purses, shoes, briefcases, and other leather items. The meat of alligator is considered a gourmet delicacy, low in fat and high in protein. Not just the tail, but also all of the meat of the gator is edible, and sold in restaurants all throughout Florida. The price for the raw meat is only about $5-$7 per pound. Poaching of alligator for sports and collection of body parts for showcases also destroyed their population. Since early sixties, clearing of land and open space also played an important role because of rapid increase in the population in the state of Florida. Alligator farming also effect their population. Alligator farming is now a thriving business, with the estimated 30 + alligator farms in the state of Florida kill approximately 30-50 alligators a day. This multi-million dollar industry generates approximately 3 million pounds of meat and over 45,000 skins a year.
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