Few scenes put the senses on edge more than a submerged alligator, only eyes and snout showing, when peering across a southern lake on a misty morning. An iconic American predator, these reptiles grow to thirteen feet or more and can live as long as humans. Alligators are complex creatures, capable of terrific attacks and yet tending to their young in the same gentle way a mother duck looks after her brood. Once extremely numerous, alligators came close to extinction in the twentieth century, but thanks to conservation efforts have since made a comeback, reclaiming their rightful place as the monarchs of the southern wetlands.
In this fascinating account, richly illustrated with more than 150 photographs from award-winning wildlife photographer Wayne Lynch, expert zoologist Kent A. Vliet introduces readers to the biology, ecology, and natural history of the American alligator. Sharing nuanced depictions of their hidden lives that will forever change the way you think of these giant reptiles, the book:
- combines captivating storytelling with the most current scientific facts
- chronicles the life cycle of the alligator
- explains why the alligator's precise anatomy and physiology make it so successful
- covers a wide range of topics, from courtship and reproduction to communication, basking, nest-building, and hunting
- reveals the alligator's sophisticated social life in detail
- evaluates the alligator's environmental role as a keystone species
- examines the complicated relationship between alligators and people
1 A Dragon among Us
2 First Encounters
3 Alligator Adaptations
4 Where They Live
5 Sun Bathers
6 An Alligator's Appetite
7 Meet the Relatives
8 Love Is in the Water
9 Small Beginnings
10 Long Odds for a Long Life
11 Alligator Societies
12 Living with Alligators
13 From Slaughter to Salvation
14 Alligators at Sunset
Appendix A. Where to See Wild Alligators
Appendix B. Scientific Names of Non-crocodilian Species Mentioned in the Text
Zoologist Kent A. Vliet (Alachua, FL) is the coordinator of laboratories for the Department of Biology at the University of Florida, a scientific advisor for the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park, and the chair of the Crocodilian Advisory Group for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Renowned wildlife photographer Wayne Lynch (Calgary, AB) is the author or coauthor of numerous books, including Owls of the United States and Canada: A Complete Guide to Their Biology and Behavior and Polar Bears: A Complete Guide to Their Biology and Behavior.
"A joy to read. Kent Vliet is truly one of the world's most informed experts on virtually every aspect of the biology and conservation of the American alligator. Every chapter presents something new about alligators that I didn't know, and I've been teaching about them for twenty-five years! I think it will inspire many people, young and old, to study alligators and appreciate them."
– Lee Fitzgerald, Texas A&M University
"Dr. Vliet is the quintessential biologist. His entire career has been focused on learning everything about alligators and, as he demonstrates within his book, he has attained a level of knowledge few people could hope to gain."
– John Brueggen, Director, St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park
"Alligators is a stirring and vivid portrayal of the iconic monarch of the southern wetlands. Packed with anecdotes and close encounters from Kent A. Vliet's years in the field, and beautifully illustrated with stunning photos by Wayne Lynch, this is a must-read for all biologists, herpetologists, and crocodile enthusiasts."
– Ruth M. Elsey, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
"Vliet, the foremost expert on the American alligator and a recognized world authority on crocodilians, has created the best book on the American alligator ever published. His personal observations in the field are written in such a way that makes you feel like you are there, along with the author, and will make the book appeal to any naturalists, conservation enthusiasts, and professional biologists."
– John Groves, North Carolina Zoological Park (emeritus)