Other Florida Wildlife Pictures
Alligators occur from southeast Oklahoma and east Texas on the western side of their range to North Carolina and Florida in the east. They prefer fresh water lakes and slow-moving rivers and their associated wetlands, but they also can be found in brackish water habitats.
About 1/3 of alligator nests are destroyed by predators (mainly raccoons) or flooding. The average clutch size of an alligator nest is 38. For nests that survive predators and flooding, an estimated 24 live hatchlings will emerge. Only 10 alligator hatchlings will live to one year. Of these yearlings, 8 will become subadults (reach 4 feet in length). The number of subadults that reach maturity (6 feet in length) is approximately 5. These estimates are for a growing alligator population. As a population matures (and has a higher percentage of large alligators), the survival rate would be expected to be lower, in part due to a higher rate of cannibalism.
The most recent evidence indicates that crocodilians (which includes alligators) and dinosaurs evolved from a common ancestor that existed subsequent to the common ancestor that they share with other reptiles. So, even though alligators are classified as reptiles along with lizards, snakes, and turtles, they are actually more closely related to birds, whose direct ancestors were dinosaurs!