The reptilian predator floats across the black coffee lagoon. With his head and eyes barely visible above the water, the American Alligator casually patrols his territory in search of fish, turtle, and perhaps more exotic game. This living dinosaur, who forgot to go extinct, now roams the freshwater bodies of the southeastern United States, very much alive. Alligators are safe to marvel at from a distance. But come too close, and beware, the fun may end very soon.
If your children are learning about alligators in school or for fun at home, on this page you will find a series of interesting alligator facts for kids, along with several neat alligator printables. I hope this information will help young students with their homework assignments and school projects. Any of the images on this page may be saved and printed for personal and educational purposes.
Alligator Facts for Kids
Alligators are large carnivorous reptiles with dark green scaly skin. They live in the southeastern United States and in eastern China. There are 2 species of alligators: the America Alligator (A. mississippiensis) and the Chinese Alligator (A. sinensis).
What do Alligators Eat?
Alligators eat fish, invertebrates, reptiles, birds and mammals. Young alligators feast mainly on small creatures, such as fish, insects, snails, crustaceans and worms. When alligators grow and get older, they feed on larger fish, turtles, birds, deer, and other reptiles. Alligators do not usually prey on humans, while crocodiles sometimes do.
Are Alligators Actually Dinosaurs?
Yes, alligators are living dinosaurs, and members of the crocodilian animal group. Alligators have been around for about 37 million years. Prehistoric crocodilians lived among the dinosaurs about 230 million years ago, to whom they are closely related. 65 million years ago, a mysterious phenomenon, most likely a meteor strike, caused the dinosaurs to go extinct. But not the crocodilians. Somehow, they managed to survive. These crocodilians later evolved into modern day alligators and crocodiles. Why they stayed alive remains a mystery that scientists are still trying to solve.
What do you think is the reason the crocodilians managed to survive, while the dinosaurs perished?
What Does the Word ‘Alligator’ Mean?
When the Spanish explorers came to the Americas and saw alligators for the first time, they called them “el lagarto” which means “the lizard.”
Where Do Alligators Live?
Alligators come from the southeastern part of the United States. They are found in Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Texas. Since they are cold-blooded, they prefer to stay in tropical and subtropical areas.
How Long Do Alligators Live?
Alligators live about 30 to 40 years. (Crocodiles, on the other hand, live an average of 70 years, and can even live up to 100 years!)
The Biggest Alligator in the World
As of 2014, the reward for “Biggest Alligator in the World” goes to a 1011.5 pound gator caught in Alabama on August 16, 2014. This alligator was 15 feet, 9 inches long! It was 13 inches longer than the previous world record holder. Inside the stomach of this monstrous gator, taxidermists found a fully intact adult female deer.
Photographs taken by Tim van de Vall in Hilton Head, South Carolina.
The Difference Between Alligators and Crocodiles
Alligators and Crocodiles are both members of an animal group called Crocodilians. There are 24 species of crocodilians: 14 crocodiles, 6 caimans, 2 alligators, and 1 gharial. (The gharial is a crocodilian native to India.) Check out the Venn diagram below to learn more about the differences between alligators and crocodiles, as well as some of their similarities. If you would like to print this Venn diagram, click on the Venn diagram image. A larger version of the illustration will open in your browser. Right-click on it and press “Save Image As…” to save it your computer.
Alligator Coloring Page for Kids
Do you like to color? Then grab your crayon and print out these free alligator coloring pages for kids. The first coloring page features a cartoon alligator who has accidentally caught another, much larger, alligator with his fishing pole. The second alligator coloring pages shows a realistic alligator swimming in a lagoon. The next printable coloring sheet contains a baby alligator who is stuck in his shell. The last coloring page is of a whimsical cartoon alligator chef carrying a pepperoni pizza. Click a coloring page to open it in your browser. Then right-click on the image and press “Save Image As…” to save it to your computer. Enjoy!
- Fairweather, Gari D. Alligators and Other Crocodilians. Chicago, IL: World Book, 2001. Print.
- Fowler, Allan. Gator or Croc? New York: Children’s, 1996. Print.
- Gibbons, Gail. Alligators and Crocodiles. New York: Holiday House, 2010. Print.
- Landau, Elaine. Alligators and Crocodiles: Hunters of the Night. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Elementary, 2008. Print.
- Markle, Sandra. Outside and inside Alligators. New York: Atheneum for Young Readers, 1998. Print.
- Simon, Seymour. Crocodiles & Alligators. New York: HarperCollins, 1999. Print.
- “It’s Official! Mandy Stokes’ Alligator Declared New SCI World Record.” AL.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.