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Alligator sinensis (Chinese alligator)
 

The Chinese alligator is the only member within the subfamily Alligtorinae, that is found outside Central and South America and is restricted  to the mainland China. It is one of the smallest crocodiles with a max. length of around 2 meters. Males are a little bit bigger than the females. It is found in the temperate region around 30-31 degrees N. The climate with warm summers and a harsh but short winter. They are active in the period between Marts and October and spends the winter in selfdug and sometimes very complex burrowsystems. In the summertime the animals are mostly nocturnal and inhabit the area near their burrows, where they will seek cover at any disturbance. 
Their diet consist mainly of mollusks in form of freshwater mussels and gastropods, but they will eat anything suitable like clams, shrimps, insects, fish, birds and mammals. 
Both males and females have voices and especially males makes eksplosive roars in the mating season.

 
Alligator sinensis
 
The mating season appears shortly after hibernation, and the females build a typical crocodilian mound  nest of plant material usually Bambusa and defend it against intruders. Up to 24 eggs are deposited with an average size of approx. 60 mm and 44 g.  The eggs hatch after about 70 days and the juveniles are approx. 20 cm long and have a weight of 30 g. Like all crocs the Chinese alligator has a temperature dependent sex determination giving males at high temperatures and females at lower temperatures. Maturity occurs at a size of at least 135 cm and an age of 8-10 years.
 
Alligator sinensis
 
The Chinese alligator is one of the rarest reptiles in nature. There are only a few hundreds left, but there is a massive reproduction program started in China to insure the surviving of this species. In Anhui China they are bred in thousands, and they are even bred in a few American zoos. They are very rare in private collections and most of them are placed in Denmark and Germany. 
 
 
We had the luck of getting 4 unrelated juveniles hatched in 1998, but unfortunately the largest female got very aggressive while growing up and suddenly killed 2 and skinned the back of the third within a few hours. The 2 remaining animals (a pair) are now separated in a 12 square meter palludarium with a water depth of 30-100 cm. The palludarium is a concrete basin with an amour glass top and Acryl plastic roof. 
The food items consists of pond snails, freshwater fish and occasionally newborn chickens and mice. They prefer pond snails. They search the intere tank every night and finds all even very small snails cannot escape them. They start eating after hibernation, when the temperature reaches 21*C. Their appetite rises with the temperature, and in the summer 2003, they ate their own weight every month. In Spring 2007 both are roaring heavely, and they have started the first mating attempts. There are some fish (Poecilia formosa, P. latipinna, Ameca splendens and Skiffia multipunctatus) living all year in the palludarium, but so far the alligators haven`t been able to catch them. 
 
 
Water temperature is during the summer 24-28*C and the have a heating spot at 32*C on the dry area, but it is almost only visited in the night. The palludarium is placed in a wintergarden with Acryl plastic roof, so that the animals follows the daily and yearly rhythm. During winter the temperature is lowered to 8-12*C, but the alligators are still fairly active both on land and in the water. 
The indoor palludarium is the first part of their future environment, that will be connected with an outdoor pond at approx. 24 m2, where the alligators can use during the summer. 
Our alligators are active both night and day, but have become very shy. They changed behavior after inhabiting their new palludarium and dive as soon as someone enters the room. Both animals can recognize us and especially the male bells loudly every time, he sees me, but if there are foreigners both animals disappears immediately.
 
Alligator sinensis