The American Alligator inhabits wetlands that frequently overlap with human-populated areas. They reach adulthood at about 10 years of age, at which time they are about 7 feet long. The oldest males may grow to be 16 feet and weigh up to 1,200 pounds during a lifespan of 30 or more years.
Adult alligators will eat wild boars, deer, dogs of all sizes, and livestock including cattle and sheep. The gizzards of alligators often contain gastroliths. The function of these stones is to grind up food in the stomach and help with digestion. This is important because alligators swallow their food whole. These gastroliths are also used in buoyancy control.
Alligators generally have a green, brown, or nearly black color with a creamy white underside. Algae-laden waters produce greener skin, while tannic acid from overhanging trees can often produce darker skin.
Although alligators have no vocal cords, males bellow loudly to attract mates by sucking air into their lungs and blowing it out in intermittent, deep-toned roars. Male alligators engage in infrasound bellowing with their midsection very slightly submerged, making the surface of the water sprinkle. Recently it was discovered that on spring nights alligators gather in large numbers for group courtship, known as “alligator dances”.