The American alligator is a large, heavily armored reptile armed with sharp claws, a strong tail and an enormously powerful set of jaws lined with conical teeth. As apex predators, alligators have no natural enemies but can rely on these features for defense.
The American alligator can grow to nearly 14 feet in length and can weigh almost 1,000 pounds, although larger specimens are documented. The American alligator lives in the southeastern United States, while the Chinese alligator, a smaller relative, resides in the Yangtze River valley. Adult male alligators are solitary animals except in mating season. Female alligators are notable within the reptile world for their strong maternal instincts, as they protect their young up to a year following hatching.