American Alligators Part 1 – Adults & Habitat

My last posts have shared wildlife elegance and cuteness with birds, a Monarch and a chipmunk.

Now let’s go for some danger in a three-part series. All while in the comfort of your chair. πŸ™‚

And for me, safely from the other side of the canals when I photographed these this past winter in Florida.


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American Alligator in habitat


American Alligators are considered adults at about 6 feet long and grow up to about 10 feet for females and 15 feet for males, and weighing 600 to 1,000 lbs. In the wild, they are estimated to live 35-50 years.


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“Big ‘Ole Fella”


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“Lounging Louie”


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“You wanna judge my laziness?”


Where the waters are deep, you can find alligators ‘just hanging around’ in the afternoons. It sure looks comfortable!


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American Alligator sunning


While they sun, I’ve seen small fish feed off an alligator’s tail.


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Fish feeding off an Alligator’s tail


For sure, the fish didn’t feed near the alligator’s head, or they might be a snack!


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Fish feeding off an Alligator’s tail


And finally, I did come across this alligator that WAS on my side of the canal, along the dirt road I was traveling. S/he never moved. What a beauty! I took a photo with my wide angle lens.


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American Alligator


And another with my zoom lens.


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American Alligator


A Fact: Alligator teeth are actually not sharp for tearing but rounded for grabbing and holding. For the kill, it is their crushing jaw with a biting strength of 2,125 pounds per square inch that does the work – enough to bite through steel.

ALWAYS respect alligators. Stay a safe distance. With 1.2 million alligators in Florida alone, officials there constantly remind people to never harass or feed them and report nuisance alligators to the FWC for capture and relocation if possible.

Watch for my next post, “Alligators Part 2: Close-Ups”!

69 thoughts on “American Alligators Part 1 – Adults & Habitat

  1. Great captures Donna. Just as well we have zoom lenses, similar to our Crocodiles you always keep your distance, as they are super sleuths in the water and can run fast on land.

  2. Wow, great photos Donna, I was glad the gators were on the other side away from you, until you pictured one that was right by you! I love the photo of the fish feeding on a gator’s tail!

  3. Nice shots Donna. To me that looks like it would lots of fun to photography them in the wild. That is if I could hold the camera steady while the adrenaline pumps through my body. πŸ™‚

    • Thanks David! It certainly is a thrill to take photos of dangerous creatures. I had a lot of adrenaline rushing through me at times! Even at a safe distance, with water between us. πŸ˜‰

    • Thank you, Jane! Then you truly know how dangerous gators really are. I wish I could have spent more time with that alligator and the fish feeding. I had a group of people suddenly crowding me to see what I was shooting, so I moved away quickly and left. No one was wearing masks in that group! 😧

  4. I really like the photos that you took of this interesting creature. Their snouts seem to be more pointed than a crocodile. I had no idea they could grow this large, definitely worthy of a respectful distance.

  5. Wow, great shots, Donna, and impressive stats… they can cut through steel? Yikes! I liked your shots of the cleaning fish. I’ve heard of Nile crocodiles opening their mouths for Egyptian Plover birds to clean them. Brave little birds!

  6. I not only respect them, they give me shivers just looking at your pictures. I intend to stay several thousand miles away from them! πŸ˜‰

  7. I know they are deadly but, they sure have cute faces.

    The shots of the fish cleaning the tail are amazing. National Geographic…I’m tellin’ ya’…

      • Have you ever gotten a shot of the little birds that clean their teeth or is that crocodiles on the other side of the planet?

        Another old critter, besides crockagators & sharks, are sturgeon.

        You could make money selling shots to NG.

        • No I haven’t but I’ve seen photos of birds doing that. Brave brave little birds!

          Sturgeon are being found again further up in the Chesapeake Bay and are another protected species. They’ve found them in the Maryland’s Nanticoke River in last few years which is promising for the species. If you catch one, you are to release it and report where it was found. They get at least 5-6 feet long!

          • Hunted to near extinction because of their roe. I like caviar as much as the next person but, damn. Glad they are coming back.

  8. Wow! I liked a lot the close-up photo as the alligators eye is really beautiful πŸ™‚ but I enjoyed other photos as well. Great shots Donna! Alligators live really long and I was just wondering how much during those years the environment has changed and how much the change has effected their lives.

    • Thank you, Minna! The Everglades in Florida is a protected diverse ecosystem that is 1.5 million acres big and perfect for alligators to survive without human contact, and allows them to live as they did so long ago. They aren’t so lucky where humans have taken over with development.

  9. Pingback: American Alligators Part 2 – Close-Ups | Photos by Donna

  10. Pingback: American Alligators Part 3 – Juveniles | Photos by Donna

  11. Wow, what a fantastic series of photos and information, Donna, I really enjoyed it and learned a lot. You must see them a lot to be this familiar. I’ve never seen in real life or in photos the little fish feeding at the alligator’s tail. I suppose it is the algae they are eating? Even when I googled this I couldn’t find an answer. Nice that you let us know how safe and respectful you are being, too, because I know you wouldn’t do anything unsafe for the alligator or yourself, but it’s always good to remind folks of the dangers of an alligator. Excellent post.

    • Thank you, Jet! I saw so many alligators around the Everglades that I wanted to learn about them myself. Pretty fascinating! I was thinking maybe the fish were eating algae too. The fish knew to stay at the tail, lol, good idea! πŸ˜‰

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