Alligators in your canal or yard? For help with alligator problems call 800 CRITTER or your local fish and game department. Description The American alligator is a carnivorous reptile that has existed since the late Jurassic period. Alligators are adept swimmers with powerful jaws and sharp teeth. They float with only their eyes and nostrils above the surface of the water and can lie motionless for long periods of time waiting for an opportune moment to strike out and devour their prey. Appearance Their unmistakable lizard-like bodies can grow up to 15 feet (4.5 m) long, and tough scaly plates cover their backs and long tails. While adult alligators have dark backs and white bellies, young gators can be identified by the yellow stripes along their tails. Alligators grow new teeth as old ones grow dull or break off and can go through thousands of teeth in a lifetime. Habitat Alligators prefer to live in freshwater lakes, rivers, swamps, and marshes throughout the southeastern United States, where, as cold-blooded creatures, the warm climate and mild winters allow them to thrive. Although their scaly cousin the crocodile enjoys marine climates and saltwater areas, alligators lack the glands necessary to regulate salt content within their bodies and rarely venture into saltwater. Manmade sources of freshwater, such as ditches, canals, ponds, and even swimming pools, are also attractive habitats for alligators. Entry Are alligators known to enter homes or yards? Since alligators prefer to live in aquatic environments such as swamps, they do not enter human habitations or businesses. However, due to the growing human population in alligator-rich states such as Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, residents living in waterfront areas risk contact with the reptiles. Alligators may enter backyard ponds, swimming pools, or golf course water hazards in search of food, and occasionally come up onto dry land on warm days in order to bask in the sunlight before moving back to their territory. Damage Do alligators harm people or property? The only real damage caused by alligators stems from their predatory nature. Cats and dogs are the same size as alligators' favored prey. In rural areas, they have been known to hunt livestock, with larger specimens attacking fully grown horses and cattle. Only the largest alligators attack humans, but their bites can quickly lead to infection. In the water, alligators bite down and twist with the intent of tearing off limbs or drowning the prey. Control and Safety These reptiles typically do not want anything to do with humans, and leave people alone unless they are harassed. Large alligators over 8 feet (2.5 m) long may pose dangers to humans, pets, and livestock and can be controlled by having a licensed individual trap and remove the animal. Avoid swimming in waters known to contain alligators, and keep pets and animals away from the edge of freshwater ponds, lakes, or swamps where alligators may live. Relocation of nuisance alligators is not possible because they often attempt to return to capture sites upon release, and introducing them into the territories of other wild alligators only leads to fighting. Trapping and Removal Once brought to the brink of extinction, American alligators have made a comeback throughout the American Southeast. Because nuisance alligators must be exterminated, only licensed experts hold the authority to trap and remove problem animals. Critter Control Technicians are certified to properly and humanely remove alligators that pose problems for humans. We can help you get rid of alligator problems. Call today: 1.800.274.8837.