American alligators are usually found in freshwater swamps, marshes, rivers, lakes, and occasionally, smaller bodies of water. It is believed that this preference for calm waters has to do with their swimming and breathing. In areas of protected water, an American alligator has only to keep its nasal disk above water to breath, whereas in rough water the snout must be at a steeper angle, making it more difficult to swim. They can also tolerate reasonable amounts of salinity, but only for short amounts of time due to their lack of buccal glands.
American alligators are also known to modify their enivironment by creating burrows. These are created using both snout and tail and are used for shelter and hibernation during freezing temperatures. If the water they live in dries out, alligators will swim or walk to other bodies of water, sometimes even taking shelter in swimming pools.
Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; freshwater
Aquatic Biomes: lakes and ponds; rivers and streams; coastal ; brackish water
Wetlands: marsh ; swamp
Other Habitat Features: urban ; suburban ; agricultural
- Ross, C. 1989. Crocodiles and Alligators. New York, New York: Facts on File, Inc..