Sometimes referred to as "living fossils," alligators have existed for millions of years. Alligators are reptiles and can sometimes be confused with crocodiles, which are part of the same order, Crocodylia.
There are only two species of alligators: the American and the Chinese. Alligators prefer freshwater and are found in the wild only in North America and China, while crocodiles are found all over the world. North American alligators are found in southeastern states such as Florida and Louisiana. Female alligators are an average of 8 feet long, and males are around 11 feet long, weighing in at as much as 1,000 pounds.
Alligators are carnivores and eat fish, birds and turtles. They sometimes even prey on deer. Alligators have between 74 and 80 teeth in their mouths at one time, but these teeth wear down and are replaced over time. Over an alligator's lifetime, it can go through as many as 3,000 teeth. Alligators have a very powerful bite, but the muscle that opens their jaw is quite weak. Alligators, like other reptiles, are cold-blooded and lay eggs. The gender of the alligator in the egg depends on the temperature during incubation. Cold temperatures make female alligators, and warm temperatures produce males. Young alligators can be distinguished from adult alligators by the bright yellow stripes on their tails.