扬子鳄Chinese Alligator

1. 分类Taxonomy





扬子鳄Alligator sinensisFauvel1879),英文名Chinese Alligator China AlligatorYangtze Alligator

2. 保护级别Conservation assessment


National first class key protected species of China


Critical Endangered species on IUCN Red List


Species on CITES appendix

3. 形态特征Physical Description



The body length of Chinese alligator adult is about 1.5 m, and the largest known individual is 2.37 m long, weighs about 60 kg. Their limbs are short, webbed between the toes, and their tail is long and flat, thick and strong, which helps them move in water (Fig. 1, 2).

Chinese alligator has scales all over the body, which are square on the belly, round and prominent on the neck side, prominent, flat and cone on the back and tail.


1. 扬子鳄外形示意图(作者Michigan Science Art,来源Animal Diversity Web

Figure 1. Chinese alligator (contributor: Michigan Science Art; origin: Animal Diversity Web


2. 扬子鳄实体图(作者常娟,来源红山天博体育)

Figure 2. Chinese alligator (contributor: Chang Juan; origin: Hongshan Zoo)

4. 地理分布Geographic Range


It now lives in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River and its tributaries in Anhui, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces (Fig. 3).


3. 扬子鳄世界范围地理分布(来源IUCN

Figure 3. Geographic range of Chinese alligator (origin: IUCN)

5. 栖息环境Habitat


① 残留湿地,一般沿着主河道低洼宽阔肥沃的山谷目前已基本被稻田占领。

② 支流山谷间的池塘。


The habitats of Chinese alligators are mainly:

① Residual wetlands, which are generally low-lying, wide and fertile valleys along main river channels. It is now largely occupied by rice fields.

Pond in a valley of tributaries.

In addition, Chinese alligator has a complex cave system in its habitat with beds for hibernation, pools for temperature regulation, and air holes for escape in case of flood surges.

6. 生活习性Ecology

6.1 食物Food Habits




Chinese alligators are carnivorous animals, whose main food includes fish, frogs and mussels.

Chinese alligator feeding period is mainly from May to September, the most vigorous period is in June to August. The food amount they consume during these time accounting for more than 80% of the annual intake.

Chinese alligators' teeth are important hunting weapons, which could be  regularly replaced throughout lifetime to keep them sharp. They have a powerful bite force, but they can't chew their food, so they just swallow it directly.

6.2 社群Sociality


Chinese alligators are usually solitary.

6.3 领域Home Range


When near the living place of Chinese alligators, you may smell a special odor, which are used by the alligators to mark territory. They have two types of odor glands: the mandibular gland and the cloaca gland, both of which secrete greasy substances with particular smells.

6.4 节律Rhythm



The activity state of the Chinese alligator depends on the temperature. When the temperature is low in spring, they like to bask in the sunshine on the shore, or pile up together. In hot summer, Chinese alligators like to stay in the water to escape the heat.

When the temperature falls below 10℃ in mid-to-late October, they go into hibernation until they wake up in April.

7. 繁殖Reproduction








There are more female Chinese alligators than males in nature, and the ratio of female to male is about 5:1.

The alligators are polygamy. Estrus and mating season are early June and oviposition is in July.

The age of sexual maturity of Chinese alligators in wild is still unknown. It is estimated that the age of sexual maturity of Chinese alligators in wild is 9-10 years old for males and 10-11 years old for females. In captivity, Chinese alligators reach sexual maturity at 5 to 6 years for males and 6 to 7 years for females.

Courtship begins with a loud call. The male and female call and respond, the female's call is deeper, the male's call is louder. The male and female meet and copulated.

During incubation, the mother does not travel far, but comes to inspect or guard the nest frequently. A female will lay an average of 10-40 eggs and hatch them in 60-70 days. All hatchlings below 30℃ are female, all hatchlings above 34℃ are male, and those hatchlings between 31℃ and 34℃ are both male and female, but there are always more females than males.

Chinese alligators have the habit of protecting eggs, but different alligators have different behaviors of protecting eggs. Some Chinese alligators also protect their young.

Once fully hatched, the young become independent and leave the nest, never to return again.

8. 保护现状Conservation Status


目前政府开展了大量的针对扬子鳄的保护工程:1972 年列为 I 级重点保护野生动物,并在 1978 年和 1979 年先后在安徽宣州和浙江长兴成立扬子鳄繁殖研究中心。人工圈养保护、野外就地保护、繁殖子代放归以及重引入等一系列的保护计划给野生扬子鳄种群的复壮工程带来希望。宣城鳄鱼湖即安徽省扬子鳄繁殖研究中心,是我国最大的扬子鳄保护基地,经过20年的人工饲养繁殖,扬子鳄数量已由当初野生收集到的140余条,增加到1万余条,并具备年繁殖1500条的能力,扬子鳄已渡过濒危线。这一成果获得了国际社会的肯定和赞誉。

Habitat change and overhunting are the main reasons for the decline of Chinese alligator populations. In 2017, there were about 300 Chinese alligators in wild in China, some of the individuals were raised in captivity and then released into the wild.

Till now, the government has carried out a large number of protection projects for the Chinese alligator. In 1972, the Chinese alligator was listed as a class I key protected wild animal. and in 1978 and 1979, the Chinese alligator breeding research center was set up in Xuanzhou, Anhui province and Changxing, Zhejiang Province. A series of conservation programs, such as captive breeding, in situ conservation, reproduction and reintroduction, bring hope to the restoration project of wild Chinese alligator population. Alligator Lake of Xuancheng, Anhui Province Research Center of Alligator Breeding, is China's largest Protection base for Chinese alligators. After 20 years of artificial breeding, the number of Chinese alligators has increased to more than 10,000 from the original wild collection of more than 140, and has the ability to breed 1,500 a year, Chinese alligators have crossed the "endangered line". This achievement has won recognition and praise of international level.