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Relaxing on a Florida, USA river bank, this American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) appears oblivious to the leaf on its snout. Alligators were hunted extensively in the early 1900s for their pelts and meat, and were for a time eliminated from all but the most remote swamps and lakes. Hunting was banned in the 1940s, and today American alligators have staged a remarkable comeback and can be found in rivers, swamps and lakes (and the occasional swimming pool) in south-eastern USA. Male alligators can reach over 11 feet (3.4 m) long and weigh more than 1,000 pounds (454 kg)! Alligators usually feed on fish, turtles, snakes and small mammals. Female alligators build a mounded nest from vegetation where they lay 35 to 50 eggs. Mothers usually guard the nests and help clear the nesting material for the babies when they hatch 65 days later.

American Alligator (Florida, USA) by Dorothy S. Long
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