Reptile

Chinese Alligator

Area: 
China
Habitat: 
Rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, marshes, and swamps
Food: 
Turtles, snails, clams, and fish
Size: 
Up to 5 feet long
Babies: 
Hatch from eggs; mother will carry the young in her mouth to the water, then they are on their own.
The Chinese name for this animal, Yow-lung, means “dragon.”
All-over Armor

 

From nose to tail, belly to back, a Chinese alligator is protected by hard scales. Even the eyelids have bony plates under the skin!

 

Chinese alligators use their snout and strong, clawed front feet to dig burrows in the banks of streams. When the cold months come, they hunker down in their burrows—or in caves—and stay there throughout the winter. It’s a good way to wait out the cold, but their denThe home or dwelling of an animal, usually in the ground, a tree hollow, or a cave.-digging habit brings them problems with people.

 

Humans use much of the alligator’s habitatWhere an animal or plant normally lives and grows. for farms. Besides crops, the farmers also raise ducks to sell for food. Chinese alligators use this source of “easy food” and preyNoun: An animal that is hunted as food by another animal. Verb: To attempt to take an animal for food. on the ducks.

 

They also dig burrows in the sides of irrigation ditches, which can cause them to collapse. The Chinese government has been working to help farmers find ways to live with the alligators. And although there are fewer than 130 Chinese alligators in the wild, many are being bred in wildlife refuges and zoos. Hopefully, when habitatWhere an animal or plant normally lives and grows. can be protected, some of these gators can be released into the wild.