The American alligator is a large reptile that can grow up to 14 feet (4.3 meters) in length and weigh up to 1,000 pounds (454 kg). They have a broad, rounded snout that distinguishes them from crocodiles, which have a more pointed snout. Their body is covered in tough, armored skin with black coloration on their back and sides, while their underbelly is a light yellow to tan color. They have strong legs with webbed feet that make them excellent swimmers and a powerful tail that propels them through the water. Alligators also construct their own pools, called Alligator holes, that hold water throughout the year. As the dry season approaches and water dries up from surrounding areas, the retained water in the gator hole becomes a refuge for a variety of wildlife.
This species also represents a compelling story about conservation. In the early 1900s, alligator hides were sought after for luxury leather products, with hunting parties killing hundreds of thousands of animals, nearly driving the Florida population to extinction. In 1967 under a law that preceded the Endangered Species Act of 1973, the American alligator was listed as an endangered species and gained protections from hunting and habitat loss. The number of alligators began to rebound soon after the pressures of hunting ended, with the population responding so well to conservation initiatives that it was removed from the list of endangered species in 1987!According the National Park Service; Human conflicts with alligators are rare and generally not serious, but incidents do occur and have been reported. Education and awareness is the best long-term way to avoid future incidents. Most alligator attacks on humans are attributed to the illegal feeding of alligators, which makes them bolder, less wary of humans, and more likely to attack instead of flee. It is illegal to feed or provoke alligators as well as all other wildlife.