How Long do Alligators Live?

Are an Alligator and Crocodile the Same? Where are Alligators found? What Causes their Death? How Old are the Oldest Alligators? Are they still Alive?

Different types of animals survive in different types of environments and feed on different kinds of food. Different factors affect the life spans of different animals. A butterfly can live for just a few days, while a sea turtle can live up to 150 years. However, their lifespan does not depend on their size. Have you heard about the oldest alligator? How old is a 12 foot alligator? We’ll learn more about how long do alligators live and how old is the oldest alligator.

1. Are Crocodile and Alligator Same?

No. An alligator is a large reptile in the order Crocodilia and the genus Alligator of the family Alligatoridae. An alligator and a crocodile are two different creatures. Alligator was derived from the Spanish word el lagarto, which means the lizard. (See What’s Bigger Crocodile or Alligator?)

2. Where are Alligators Found?

Alligators are found in all the wetland areas in different parts of the world. These ancient species of reptiles have only 2 extant species, namely

  • American Alligators (Alligator mississippiensis): They are found in the Tamaulipas, Mexico, and the Southeastern United States.
  • Chinese Alligators (Alligator sinensis): They are native to the regions of Eastern China, mostly in the Yangtze River Valley in China.

3. What is Their Weight and Length?

The weight of an average American alligator can be 360–450 kilograms (790–990 lbs.), while a Chinese alligator can only weigh up to 45 kilograms (100 lbs.).

The length of an American alligator can be 13–14 feet (4–4.4 meters), but sometimes they can be as long as 19.2 feet (5.84 meters), whereas a Chinese alligator can be 7 feet (2.1 meters). (See What is an African Lion’s Weight in kg?)

4. What is the Color of Their Skin?

Photo by Lisa Yount on Unsplash

You are close to finding out how long do alligators live. Alligators are famous predators because of the skin color that gives them additional camouflage. Adults are dark olive to brown or black, whereas young alligators can be bright yellow with white stripes. Their color helps them in hiding well among reeds and wetland grasses. (See What is the Leopard Skin Colour?)

5. What is Their Habitat?

They prefer mostly freshwater; therefore, American alligators are found in rivers, lakes, marshes, swamps, ponds, wetlands, and brackish water. However, Chinese alligators are mostly found in zoos because they are considered endangered, and only a few are left in the wild. (See How Far do Snakes Travel?)

6. How Long do Alligators Live?

Their average lifespan cannot be measured because these oldest relatives of dinosaurs do not have a specific lifespan. There have been records of alligators living for more than 80 years. So, how long do alligators live generally? Typically they live up to 30–50 years, depending upon the conditions in which they live. (See Are Dinosaurs Alive?)

7. How does Age affect the Length of an Alligator?

The length of an alligator increases rapidly from birth until they are 5 years old, during which they grow 1 foot per year. By the time they are 10 years old, the growth rate slows down; by this time, an alligator is already 8 feet in length. Female alligators reach a full length of about 9 feet at the age of 10 years. Male alligators will continue to grow less than 1 inch per year after the age of 10. (See Are there only 100 Sloths left?)

8. How Old is a 12 Foot Alligator?

Photo by Shelly Collins on Unsplash

Mostly male alligators reach a length of 10 feet or more. He is almost 8 feet at the age of 10 years, and by the time he is 12 feet, he is older enough. Some alligators do not live long enough in the wild. The estimated age of a 12-feet alligator can be 58–62 years old. (See How to Describe Crocodile?)

9. How do Alligators Die?

After knowing how long do alligators live, get to know how they die. These predators are at the top of the food chain because they are apex consumers. Any other animal does not dare to hunt them, but still, other factors lead to their early death or extinction. Must See Why Did the Archaeopteryx Become Extinct?

Take a look at the list here of the possible reasons for their deaths:

  • Killed in a fight with other alligators
  • Illness or old age
  • Die due to habitat loss
  • Get contaminated by pesticides and fertilizers
  • Killed by humans

10. How Long do Alligators Live in Captivity?

According to animal experts, there is a possibility of a 20 years difference in the lifespan of alligators in the wild and captivity. Evidence shows that alligators kept in conservation centers tend to live healthy for up to 70 years or more. (See 20 Largest Zoo in the World)

11. How Old is the Oldest Alligator?

One of the oldest recorded alligators was Saturn. The oldest living American alligator at present is Muja in Belgrade Zoo. He is more than 85 years old. (See How Fast Are Crocodiles on Land?)

12. Who are the Other Oldest Alligators in the World?

Photo by Rae Wallis on Unsplash

If you are considering that only male alligators live a long life, then let me tell you that it is not the case. In the list of the oldest alligators, females are also there. Take a look here for the top 5 oldest alligators in the world. These examples show us how long do alligators live.

  • Muja: This American alligator is at the top of the list as he is, at present, the oldest living alligator in the world. According to the German Zoo, he was hatched somewhere before 1937, and then in 1937, he was brought to the Belgrade Zoo. According to his handlers, he is more than 83 years old and is living a healthy life. He even witnessed and survived the bombings of the Second World War.
  • Saturn: This American alligator was born in the Mississippi zoo in 1936. He was brought to Germany, where he lived for about 10 years. He stayed in the Berlin Zoo in Germany, and after the zoo was destroyed during World War II, he was rescued by British soldiers. Then, he was shifted to the Moscow Zoo in 1946. He died on 22 May 2020 at the age of 83 or 84.
  • Capsulitis: This male American alligator was brought to the Riga Zoo, Latvia, in 1935 when he was 1 to 3 years old (no record was found of the exact age of arrival). He spent his entire life there and was the only alligator in the zoo by 1970. He suffered from lung disease and died in 2017 due to heart failure in his early 70s. This shows how long do alligators live in captivity.
  • Smiley: Our female contestant, an Americana alligator, got her name listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for her age. She was from the United States and lived in the Maritime Museum, Gothenburg, Sweden. She arrived there in 1924 when she was 2 years old and died on 9 February 1987 at the age of 65 years after suffering from a long illness.
  • Claude: Our youngest participant is an American alligator who holds the position because of being an albino alligator. These whitish-pink-skinned alligators are very rare, making them the attraction for the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. He was born on 15 February 1995 and will be 26 years old in 2022. Most albino alligators do not make it this far. He is considered the longest-living albino alligator
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