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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Alligators: They see me rolling... They Hating!

Alligators: They see me rolling... They Hating!

The American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), sometimes referred to colloquially as a gator or common alligator, is a large crocodilian reptile endemic to the Southeastern United States. It is one of two living species in the genus Alligator within the family Alligatoridae and larger than the other extant alligator species, the Chinese alligator. The American alligator inhabits freshwater wetlands, such as marshes and cypress swamps from Texas to North Carolina. It is distinguished from the sympatric American crocodile by its broader snout, with overlapping jaws and darker coloration, and is less tolerant of seawater but more tolerant of colder climates.

Alligators are apex predators and consume fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. Juveniles feed on invertebrates. Alligators also play imporant roles in wetland ecosystems through the creation of "alligator holes" which provide wetter or drier habitats for other organisms. During the breeding season, males bellow and use infrasound to attract females. Eggs are laid in a nest of vegetation, sticks, leaves, and mud in a sheltered spot in or near the water. Young are born with yellow bands around their bodies and are protected by their mother.

The American alligator is listed as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Historially, hunting has decimated their population and the American alligator was listed as an endangered species by the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Subsequent conservation efforts have allowed their numbers to increase and the species was removed from the list in 1987. Alligators are now harvested for their skins and meat. The species is the official state reptile of three states: Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Alligators are capable of killing humans, but are generally wary enough not to see them as a potential prey. Mistaken identity leading to an attack is always possible, especially in or near cloudy waters. Alligators are often less aggressive towards humans than large crocodile species, a few of which (mainly the Nile and Saltwater Crocodiles) may prey on humans with some regularity.[6][30] Alligator bites are serious injuries due to the reptile's sheer bite force and risk of infection. Even with medical treatment, an alligator bite may still result in a fatal infection.[31]

As human populations increase, and as they build houses in low lying areas, or hunt and fish near water, there are inevitably incidents where alligators threaten, or at least appear to threaten, human life. Humans tend to exaggerate causes of death that seem unusual. Hence, alligators receive undue attention relative to other far more common causes of death such as drowning or car accidents. Since 1948, there have been 275 documented attacks on humans in Florida (that is, about five incidents per year), of which at least 17 resulted in death.[32] There were only nine fatal attacks in the US throughout the 1970s, '80s, and '90s, but alligators killed 12 people between 2001 and 2007. In May 2006, alligators killed three Floridians in less than a week.

Alligator wrestling
Several Florida tourist attractions have taken advantage of fears and myths about alligators—as well as the reality of their danger—through a practice known as alligator wrestling. Created by the Miccosukee and Seminole tribes prior to the arrival of Europeans, this tourism tradition continues to the present day despite criticism from animal right activists. -Wikipedia