What is the Average Alligator Life Expectancy?

They say that age is only a number. That’s true in the animal kingdom. Some animals live hundreds of years old, like Jonathan the giant tortoise. Experts say he’s around 190 years old. There are also animals that seem to live forever. The immortal jellyfish is the perfect example. Meanwhile, some insects like mayflies only live for one day.

Alligators and crocodiles are also known for their longevity. Like their dinosaur cousins, these reptiles are hardy survivors. But how long do these massive creatures live?

The Surprising Alligator Life Expectancy

The alligator is one of the oldest living species in the world. The Alligatoridae family has been around for 37 million years. They’re not dinosaurs nor are they descendants of these reptiles. But they do belong to the same reptile group.

Alligators don’t live long like giant tortoises. But they’re no slouches in that department either. American alligators reportedly live about 30 to 50 years in the wild. But gators in captivity live longer. Most can live up to 70 years old.

There’s a reason for the discrepancy in life expectancy. Gator hatchlings and juveniles are in danger from predators. They’re also at the mercy of their environment. It’s only after they grow at least four feet long that gators are safe from predators.

Record-Breaking Gator Life Spans

American alligators live long lives. It’s not surprising that those in captivity survive longer than their wild brethren. They live in a safer alligators habitat. They also have a steady food supply. Here’s a quick look at some gators that broke life expectancy records:

  • Muja: The oldest living alligator is an astounding 83 years old. Muja has been living in the Belgrade Zoo since 1937. He’s the most senior resident and is still healthy despite his age. Muja is also a World War II survivor. The zoo was often bombed and suffered catastrophic damages during the war. Muja was the only one that survived.
  • Saturn: He is one of the luckiest reptiles around. Experts pegged Saturn to be around 82 to 83 years old. He’s the same age as Muja and is also living in a zoo. Saturn was born in the US but was later brought to Germany. He survived the destruction of the Berlin Zoo during World War II. He also survived other incidents, like getting partially crushed by a concrete slab.
  • Claude: This reptile is the youngest at 24 years old. Claude lives at the California Academy of Sciences. He’s also the star of his own swamp exhibit. Claude is also an albino alligator which makes him even more special.

How to Calculate a Gator’s Life Span

Alligators have the deck stacked against them at the start. These reptiles might be large and menacing as adults, but they’re quite vulnerable when young. It’s why few alligators reach adulthood. That’s despite gators laying anywhere from 35 to 50 eggs every year.

Scientists don’t count the first few years of the gator’s life. They often base their calculation on how long an adult alligator can live. But biologists haven’t found a method to estimate the age of a still-living alligator. They use the body of the dead animal to determine their age.

Scientists use a process called skeleton chronology. It’s like how scientists use tree rings to check how old the tree is. The experts will check the bones of dead gators. They’ll then examine its growth to estimate its age.

Giving You More Reasons to Love Florida

You can’t visit the Sunshine State without paying homage to alligators. Swamp Fever Airboat Adventures will help give you an unforgettable gator experience. We’re one of the top airboat tour operators in Orlando. Come explore with us. We’ll show you the different flora and fauna of Florida. We also guarantee your safety in the hands of our airboat operator Captain Ron. Book a tour here or give us a ring at 352-643-0708.