Size Matters: How Big Do American Alligators Get?

Does size matter? This question is often at the center of many debates. Some say it does. Others believe it does not. When it comes to the animal kingdom, size does matter.

Scientists say bigger is better in evolution. The bigger the animal is, the more dominant they appear. This improves their chances of survival. The American alligator is a great example. The sheer size of this reptile has helped it survive for centuries.

How Big Do American Alligators Get?

Alligators are among the ten biggest reptiles in the world. Florida’s state reptile is in good company. The list also includes the green anaconda and the komodo dragon.

The American gator can grow an average of 13 feet in length. It also clocks in at 800 pounds on the weighing scale. Can you imagine how strong the animal’s muscles and bones are?

There’s not much difference between the size of a male and female alligator. The average male alligator is about 11.2 feet or 3.4 meters long. Meanwhile, the female gator is often 8.2 feet or 2.6 meters long. The slight differences in size are one of the reasons why it’s hard to tell a gator’s gender. You need to do an internal examination before you can find out if it’s a male or female.

Alligators might be big but they’re nothing compared to crocodiles. The average crocodile can grow anywhere from 10 to 20 feet. They also weigh between 300 to 2,000 pounds.

So if a fight breaks out between these two reptiles, the crocodile will win hands down. Aside from the size, it’s proven that crocs are more aggressive.

How Did They Get That Big?

That’s the usual reaction when people learn about the size of alligators. “What do alligators eat” is often the next question people ask.

Evolution has played a big part in the alligator’s size. But there’s no question that their diet also helped. Alligators are carnivores. They love their meat. They eat fish, birds, and small creatures. They eat other reptiles too. It’s shocking but adult male alligators eat young gators as well.

While protein is high in their nutritional requirements, gators also eat fruits. Florida wildlife experts will tell you that riverbank trees are due to alligators. Gators drop seeds as they travel along marshes and river banks.

There’s no question that alligators are amazing hunters. They do almost all their hunting at night. They also do this while submerged in water. Gators have a lot of advantages when they hunt in water. They have incredible bursts of speed, thanks to their tails. These animals can swim at 20 mph (32.18 km/h). They can swim past bottle-nosed dolphins if they want to.

Gators are often speeding demons on land too. They’re known to reach speeds of 11 mph (17.7 km/h). But they can only do this for short periods. Their stubby legs are not designed for a land chase.

Alligators don’t need to be fast though. They bring other things to the table. Their razor-sharp teeth are a prime example. Alligators also have strong jaws. They can snap an animal’s bone with ease. They can even crack a turtle’s shell open. But an alligator’s preferred method is to drown its prey. They will hold their prey and drag them underwater. They’ll also shake them until chunks tear away.

Bigger is Always Better in Florida

Everything is larger than life in the Sunshine State. You can see that for yourself when you join us at Swamp Fever Airboat Adventures. We’re one of the best airboat tour operators in Orlando, Florida. Join us for an hour of fun and see a different side of the state. Take photos of alligators and manatees all from the comfort of our airboat. Check out our website and book your adventure here. You can also ring us at 352-643-0708 and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.