IMG 0074

Taken in Manatee Springs at the Cincinnati Zoo

Most reptiles pay no attention to their offspring, but American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) are truly tender mothers. The female builds a large mound of rotting vegetation and careful lays her eggs inside to incubate. When they hatch, she guides them to the water and watches out for them for at least two years.


  • Where to see them: Southeastern United States
  • Length: 9 to 16 ft
  • Lifespan: Up to 40 years in the wild
  • Habitat: Wetlands
  • Diet: Fish, turtles, snakes, frogs, small mammals, birds, and other alligators
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