All About The Rare White Alligator
The white alligator is the rarest species of the alligator family and they are native to southeastern portions of the United States. These mysterious animals were discovered in 1987 by the Louisiana Land Exploration Company who brought them under protection and care of the Louisiana zoo.
The only difference between this white species and other alligator species is their skin color. They have a mutant gene that prevents them from producing any melanin thereby causing them to remain all white. Interestingly, they also have intoxicating blue eyes.
While the female white alligator matures at less than 10 feet, the males are capable of growing to be 15 feet long. They have webbed feet, making them exceptional swimmers. Additionally, their tail is flat and muscular which also helps them to propel forward in the water. Their upper jaw overlaps their lower jaw and they have a broad snout. In captivity, they are suggested to have a lifespan of 50 years or longer, the same as any other alligator but in the wild, that number is shortened substantially because they are quite vulnerable to both predators and the sun.
When the white alligator is young, it will feed on insects, fish, crustaceans, worms and snails. As they mature, they slowly prey on larger items, including fish, turtles, antelope, birds and other reptiles. They have been even known to eat carrion if they happen to be hungry enough. When the alligator is a fully grown adult, they can easily take on deer, black bears, panthers and other various mammals. Attacks on humans are rare but not completely unknown. While crocodiles immediately see humans as prey, alligators typically will not attack unless self-defense is necessary.
The white alligator begins mating in the spring. By using various cues, they attempt to attract a mate. Their bellowing sounds are low and travel a great distance through vibration in the water. After a couple mates, the female lays her eggs in a nest that has been made out of vegetation.
The incubation period typically lasts around 65 days and then the female provides all of the protection for her young. The young are typically eight or nine inches long when born and the mother then carries them to the safety of the water. The juveniles form a pod and remain under their mother’s protection for up to two years.
Although the white alligator has a slow metabolism and a heavy body, they are more than capable of producing short bursts of intense speed or lunges. They generally prey on smaller animals that they can kill and then eat with one bite. However, if they do choose to prey on a larger animal, they will often drag it into the water to drown. If they are attempting to eat something that they can not devour in a single bite, they will perform the famous death roll to break it apart where they bite it and then spin wildly until chunks are torn off. Alligators rely on their tail to initiate this roll.
Alligators in general are usually timid toward humans and traditionally will walk or swim away when approached. Due to this passive behavior, foolish people have tried to approach their nest and that is when they are attacked.
For the white alligator to thrive, it requires a climate-controlled indoor room with filtered sunlight and a swimming pool. They can be found in the Louisiana zoo, Audubon zoo, Cincinnati zoo, Los Angeles zoo and the Riverbanks zoo.
These fascinating creatures are considered good luck, according to mythology and Cajun lore suggests that looking one in the eyes will bring good fortune and a long life.