Chinese Alligator

This small and secretive alligator is found only in one small part of China, along the banks of the Yangtze River. There are believed to be less than 200 Chinese alligators alive in the wild. Protection is in place, but to many farmers these alligators are nothing more than a nuisance, prone to attacking their wildfowl. Consequently, many are killed on sight. The loss of suitable habitat is also a major problem, and many captive breeding programmes have been postponed because there is not the space for the new specimens to be reintroduced to the wild.

Chinese alligators grow to around 2 m (6.5 ft) long and weigh up to 40 kg (88 lb). They are usually dark green or black in colour. Juveniles have bright yellow cross-banding. In common with the more familiar American species, Alligator mississippiensis, Chinese alligators have long, upturned snouts and bony ridges along their bodies and tails.

Young Chinese alligators have bold markings of yellow and black, but these fade as the alligators mature, becoming more and more grey as time passes.

The teeth of Chinese alligators are well adapted for crushing, as they feed extensively on crustaceans and molluscs. They hunt mostly at night and during the summer months. They are opportunistic feeders, not averse to catching ducks or rats if they find them. They will rarely attack larger mammals.

Distribution: Yangtze River in China.

Habitat: Slow-moving fresh water.

Food: Aquatic invertebrates and fish.

Size: 2 m (6.5 ft); 40 kg (88 lb).

Maturity: 4 - 5 years.

Breeding: 10 - 50 eggs laid from July-August.

Life span: Unknown.

Status: Critically endangered.

Gallery of Chinese Alligator