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: a large reptile that has a long body, thick skin, and sharp teeth, that lives in the tropical parts of the U.S. and China, and that is related to crocodiles
: the skin of an alligator used for making shoes and other products
Full Definition of ALLIGATOR
a: either of two crocodilians (Alligator mississippiensis of the southeastern United States and A. sinensis of China) having broad heads not tapering to the snout and a special pocket in the upper jaw for reception of the enlarged lower fourth tooth
Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)—P. Morris/Woodfin Camp and Associates
Either of two species of long-snouted reptiles constituting the genus Alligator (family Alligatoridae, order Crocodilia). Alligators differ from crocodiles in snout shape and tooth placement. Living in large bodies of water such as lakes, swamps, and rivers, these lizardlike carnivores use their powerful tail for defense and swimming. The eyes, ears, and nostrils, located on top of the long head, project above the water's surface. Alligators dig burrows in which they shelter from danger and hibernate in cold weather. The once-endangered American alligator of the southeastern U.S. may grow to 19 ft (5.7 m) long but usually ranges from 6 to 12 ft (1.8 to 3.7 m) long. The Chinese alligator of the Chang (Yangtze) River region, which grows to 5 ft (1.5 m), is critically endangered.