American alligator

A conservation success story, this species was brought back from the brink of extinction

Gareth Rasberry

The remarkable recovery of the American alligator population stands as a testament to the effectiveness of conservation efforts over the past few decades. Once teetering on the brink of extinction with only a few thousand individuals remaining in the wild, the species has experienced a remarkable resurgence, with current estimates exceeding one million individuals. This remarkable rebound can be attributed to a combination of factors, including implementing the Endangered Species Preservation Act, stringent state and federal safeguards, proactive habitat preservation initiatives, and a significant reduction in the demand for alligator products.

As a result of these concerted conservation efforts, the American alligator is now classified as a species of least concern by conservationists. This designation reflects the species’ stable population trend and relatively secure natural habitat status. However, ongoing monitoring and conservation measures remain crucial to ensuring the continued success of alligator populations across their range.

One of the most distinctive features of alligators is their snout, which provides a reliable means of distinguishing them from their crocodilian relatives. While both alligators and crocodiles belong to the order Crocodylia, they can be readily differentiated by the shape of their snouts. Alligators typically have wider, shorter, and more rounded snouts, resembling a letter “U,” whereas crocodiles possess longer, pointed, V-shaped snouts. Although there are exceptions to this general rule, particularly among certain species, it serves as a useful guideline for identifying these iconic reptiles in the wild.


Population est.
United States
1.25 million

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No