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Alligators

Alligators are awesome reptiles and real super-survivors!

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Here are more fun facts about alligators: 

track_bullet  Alligators help wetlands like the Everglades. How?

  • During dry periods, alligators dig holes in the ground. 
  • These gator holes then fill in with water.
  • Gator holes are a great source of water and food for lots of animals, including turtles, fish, frogs, and wading birds. 
      

track_bullet  How else do alligators help wetlands during dry spells?

  • They make wide paths through grasses as they walk.
  • These become creek beds.
  • The creek beds let much-needed water flow into the dry land.

track_bullet  Keen senses.

  • Alligators have excellent hearing and eyesight.
  • They see especially well at night.
  • And they're great at finding meals in dark, murky water.
  • Their snouts have special organs that help them smell well, too.
      

track_bullet  Cool tricks.

  • When diving underwater, an alligator’s nostrils and ears close up.
  • It can hold its breath below the surface for more than an hour.
      

track_bullet  Alligator nest.

  • A gator mom builds a mound-shaped nest of leaves and branches and scrapes a hole out in the middle.
  • She lays 20 to 70 eggs in the hole. Then she covers it over again.
  • As the leaves and branches rot, they give off enough heat to keep the eggs warm. 
      

track_bullet  Everyone's mom?

  • Some kinds of turtles, snakes, and lizards often lay their eggs in alligator nests.
  • So their eggs are guarded by a gator mom—often, it seems, without the other animals knowing it.
      

track_bullet  Caring mamma

  • Mom watches out for her young for a few months or so, until they are old enough to be on their own. 
      

track_bullet  Birthing baby gators

  • When baby alligators are ready to hatch out of their eggs, they call out with grunting noises.
  • Hearing these sounds, a gator mom will tear open the nest.
  • She may lift each egg into her mouth. Then she may press the egg against the roof of her mouth.
  • That cracks the shell and releases the young.
  • Once all of the babies are hatched, a mom often carries them to the water.
      

track_bullet   Hanging out with Mom

  • Gator babies often rest on a mom’s head or back.
      

track_bullet  Eating, gator-style

  • Alligators don’t chew their food.
  • They tear off chunks from large prey, then swallow these whole.
  • With small prey, they gulp it down all at once!
      

track_bullet  Ancient gator

  • Scientists digging in China have recently discovered the fossil of an ancestor of alligators and crocodiles. It’s named Junggarsuchus.
  • This ancient beast lived on dry land and not in the water.
  • It walked on tall legs—not short squat ones.
  • But Junggarsuchus had one thing in common with modern alligators: A super-strong jaw.

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