Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for


Date of this Version

January 1994


The American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) is the most common of two crocodilians native to the United States and is one of 22 crocodilian species worldwide. The American alligator is found in wetlands throughout the coastal plain of the southeastern United States. Alligators can be found in almost any type of fresh water, but population densities are greatest in wetlands with an abundant food supply and adjacent marsh habitat for nesting. Alligators are exclusively carnivorous and prey upon whatever creatures are most available. Alligators are ectothermic — they rely on external sources of heat to maintain body temperature. Damage by alligators is usually limited to injuries or death to humans or domestic animals. The American alligator is federally classified as “threatened due to similarity of appearance” to other endangered and threatened crocodilians.