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April 21, 2018  |  Login

Chinese Alligator
Alligator sinensis

What Are They Like?

The Chinese alligator is one of the most threatened alligators in the world. It is much shorter in length than its cousin, the American alligator. Adults typically measure about 5 feet (1.5 m) long, and weigh 50-85 pounds (23-39 kilograms) The Chinese alligator is yellowish-grey with pronounced dark spotting underneath its jaw. It has blunt teeth that are well suited to crushing shelled animals, and webbed toes that allow them to swiftly move through the water.

Where Do They Live?

Chinese alligators are found in the lower ranges of the Yangtze River in China. They inhabit the river and adjoining swamps. They are also known to have nest areas on dry land and an extensive underground burrowing system.

Did You Know?
Although Chinese alligators have flourished in captivity, there are less than 200 individuals left in the wild.

How Are Babies Made?

During the months of July and August, females will construct mound-shaped nests out of vegetation on the land surrounding the river and lay up to 50 eggs. The average incubation time is 70 days. Females are very protective of their nests and remain close by until their young hatch.

What Do They Eat?

The Chinese alligator is an opportunistic eater and will feed on clams, snails, fish, ducks and small mammals.

Did You Know?
Adult Chinese alligators are nearly half the size of adult American alligators.

What Do They Do?

Chinese alligators prefer slow-moving rivers, ponds and marsh areas. They are mainly active at night and do much of their hunting under the cover of darkness. Chinese Alligators spend six or seven months of the year hibernating in their burrows to avoid the extreme climates during winter. During the warmer months they spend the majority of their day basking in the sun.

How Concerned Should We Be?
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which keeps a "Red List" of species in danger worldwide, lists the Chinese Alligator as "critically endangered." Habitat loss due to agricultural development and human expansion is the biggest threat that faces the Chinese alligator. Alligators that adapt and remain in agricultural areas are considered pests by farmers and are often killed. The Chinese alligator is also hunted by poachers for its meat, which is believed to have medicinal properties.

What's Being Done?

Chinese alligators are protected under the Law of Wildlife Conservation of the People's Republic of China, but are still killed in the wild. Captive breeding programs have been successful, but there is little being done to reintroduce the alligators back into the wild.


Chinese Alligator Feeding Cincinatti Zoo

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