Large reptiles known to inhabit swamps and marshlands, alligators can be dangerous animals. Though they are faster in water, alligators can reach speeds of up to ten miles an hour on land. Alligators are considered a keystone species, which means the animal is at the top of the food chain in most ecosystems. While they're often confused with crocodiles, the two species of reptiles are can be distinguished from one another using the shape of their snouts. Crocodile snouts are pointed while alligator snouts are more rounded in appearance.
Adult alligators can grow to up to 15 feet in length and weigh nearly 1,000 pounds. Covered from head to tail in armored plates, alligator skin is nearly impervious. Alligators have short legs and long muscular tails, both of which help the animal swim. They are generally some shade of green, brown, or black in color and have white undersides. Young alligators are distinguishable by the bright yellow stripes on their tails.
Occupying freshwater lakes, bayous, rivers, marshes, wetlands, and swamps, alligators are mostly found along the southern Atlantic coast and around the Gulf of Mexico. The reptile has a habit of creating what are known as "gator holes." These collect water and offer alligators sustenance during dry spells as other animal species live and thrive in gator holes, providing the reptile with a constant source of food. Alligators also build dens on stream and river banks, which they utilize during colder months as protection from dropping temperatures.
Are alligators known to enter homes or yards?
Alligators may enter homes by mistake in areas where residential neighborhoods border the animal's territory. Though rare, alligators can be found in yards and even swimming pools. Most instances of human contact on private property are the result of alligators getting confused or lost.
Do alligators harm people or property?
Ambush predators by nature, alligators are opportune hunters of insects, snakes, small mammals, and even large game. Small pets can also fall victim to alligators on the hunt given opportunity and proximity to the reptile's natural habitat. Alligators do not necessarily target humans as prey, but people should never attempt to approach the reptile for any reason.
Control and Safety
Use of exclusion methods, such as erecting fences around private properties, often effectively keeps alligators out of homes and yards. Still, these methods are not foolproof and the reptile may venture into residential areas, which leads to unwanted alligator and human interaction. To limit encounters as much as possible, people should avoid swimming in areas known to house alligator populations.
Trapping and Removal
As alligators are dangerous animals capable of injuring and killing people, property owners should never try to remove them from an area. Instead, alligator trapping and removal should be left to trained wildlife specialists. Critter Control professionals have the experience, knowledge, and proper tools needed to safely and humanely eliminate alligator infestations.
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