Chinese Alligator

Chinese Alligator Alligator sinensis

Type of Animal:

Freshwater areas (especially those w/ slow-moving water) & adjacent land nearby-rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, reservoirs, river backwater canals, rice paddies, irrigation networks, marshlands, ditches, wetlands, temporary pools, bases of mountains in areas w/ lots of grass/shrubs, areas transitioning between temperate, subtropical, & tropical, moist forests

Restricted to Yangtze River Basin area along East China Sea coastline. Formerly throughout lower Yangtze River Basin.

Black to dark gray w/ short broad snout pointing slightly upwards narrowing at the end, more armored than much larger American cousin.

Snails, crustaceans, fish, insects, birds, small mammals, mollusks, turtles, fruit, frogs, invertebrate larvae

Status in Wild:
Critically Endangered

Breeding in zoos, aquariums, wildlife parks, & breeding centers. Reintroductions into native range.

Mostly solitary though young can sometimes be found in small pods

Additional Info:

Male: Bull
Female: Cow
Young: Hatchling
Group: Pod
Male: 79-99 lbs
Female: 50-79 lbs
Young: 2.5 lbs

9 weeks

Life Span:
50-70 years

Body Length:
Male: 4.9-5 ft
Female: 4.6 ft
Young: 0.5 ft

Tail Length:
2 ft

Adults have no predators while larger alligators, birds, & predatory fish prey on young.
Also called Yangtze Alligator & muddy dragon.
A fairly vocal crocodilian species, w/ adults bellowing during breeding season & young vocalizing to communicate w/ siblings & mom.
One of only 2 species of alligator in the world (the other being the more famous American Alligator) & only member of family Alligatoridae in Old World (other members of this family are 6 caiman species of C & S America).
They’ll often dig extensive earthen tunnels/burrows w/ multiple chambers, entrances, & pools. These highly useful for brumation in cooler months & as shelter in hotter weather, when they become nocturnal.
Sexually mature at 4-5 years old.
Highly endangered due to water pollution, hunting for meat/skin, persecution, habitat destruction, habitat conversion, dam building, medicinal trade, & natural disasters. There might be less than 200 in the wild, meaning more are in captivity than in wild.
Sex determined by nest temperature, w/ lower temps resulting in mostly females & higher temps producing mostly males.
Some of the smallest eggs of any crocodilian.
Tend to be very shy in wild.

Fun Fact(s):
While bite incredibly strong, jaw muscles are relatively weak.
It’s highly possible this animal was inspiration for Chinese dragon. One local name Yow-Lung or T’o in fact means dragon.
Marco Polo was 1st person outside China to write about this animal.

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