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Where Do Alligators Live?

American alligators are most commonly found in the southeastern United States, such as Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Texas. Florida and Louisiana have the largest populations of alligators in America, with each inhabited by around 1.5 million alligators. The only other species of alligator, the Alligator sinensis, is found in China and is a much smaller version of the American alligator. The United States is the only country in the world where alligators and crocodiles live side by side.

What Is Their Habitat in the Wild Like?

Because they have a low tolerance for salt, the majority of alligators inhabit freshwater. They can only handle being exposed to salt water for a small length of time, but will sometimes live in brackish water. These reptiles favor calmer waters and primarily occupy swamps and marshes. They can also be found in rivers, lakes, and other small bodies of water. Alligators require a sufficient amount of prey, mud, and vegetation when choosing a place to live and generally prefer to live in warmer climates. They are most active in warmer weather, as their metabolisms begin to slow down at about 70 °F. Alligators can, however, survive through freezing temperatures if they are in the water. To do this, they must keep their nostrils above the frozen surface so that they can still breathe while their bodies are trapped in the ice. The Alligator mississippiensis generally shies away from human civilization, but there have been accounts of alligators crossing roads, entering suburbs, and relaxing in swimming pools during the drier months.

Where Do They Live?

Alligators spend the majority of their time lurking in the water in search of prey or sunbathing on land. They are known to create burrows, which are commonly referred to as “gator holes,” by digging with their snouts and tails. These dens are holes or tunnels up to 20 feet deep made in mud banks or soil, and they provide shelter and a place for hibernation in colder weather. Gator holes prove to be extremely valuable to the ecosystem because they contain water, even in drier seasons. When it becomes too dry, the alligator will abandon its den and create another one at a new location. Other animals will take advantage of the alligator’s abandoned dens and will use them as a new home.

For more information, see the References and Further Reading page.