The American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) is a species of crocodilian found primarily in Central America. Populations occur from the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of southern Mexico to South America as far as Peru and Venezuela. The ancestors of the American crocodile are thought to have first colonized North America during an ice age, when sea levels were 300 feet lower than today. The crocodiles were prevented from colonizing inland by the presence of alligators, so they established a niche in brackish, coastal waters. American crocodiles in the United States cohabit with the American alligator, and are primarily found in Everglades National Park, Florida Bay, Biscayne Bay and the Florida Keys from Miami southward. Crocodiles require consistent tropical temperatures, hence their lack of distribution within the southern United States.
American alligators are mostly found in the Southeastern United States, from Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia/North Carolina south to Everglades National Park in Florida and west to the southern tip of Texas. They are found in the U.S. states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas, Virginia and Oklahoma. Florida and Louisiana currently have the largest population of alligators. Florida has an estimated population of 1 to 1.5 million while Louisiana has an estimated population of 1.5 to 2 million.
The alligators are hunted for their meat and for their skin (hide? not sure what it would be called). The meat is mostly in the tail of the gator and some people say it tastes like chicken. Alligators are also killed because of man encroaching on their habitat and the misconception that gators pose a threat to man. If people did not harass or feed a gator they will leave men alone as well.
Feeding the gators cause the gators to associate people with food and they lose their natural fear of men. So when a gator is found to be in an area like a pond or backyard pool and cannot be relocated they are destroyed.
American Crocodiles, like other aquatic animals, have anatomical adaptations for their aquatic existence. The nostrils are located on the top of the snout along with the eyes and ears, so they are able to stay partly submerged in the water and still breath, hear and see. Like the otter, the crocodilians have valves which close off the nostrils and ear openings when they submerge under the water. Also, a flange closes in the back of the throat, allowing them to swallow food underwater without drowning
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