The animal on the cover of Java Generics and Collections is an alligator. Alligators are found only in southern parts of the U.S. and in China. They are rare in China, native only to the Yangtze River Basin. Alligators generally cannot tolerate salt water and therefore live in freshwater ponds, swamps, and the like.
When first born, alligators are tiny, measuring only about six inches. However, it grows extremely fast in the first years of life—a foot each year. A fully grown female is usually around 9 feet and between 150 and 200 pounds, while an adult male typically reaches 11 feet and weighs about 350 to 400 pounds. The largest known alligator on record, found in Louisiana in the early 1900s, was 19 feet, 2 inches. A key identifying characteristic of an alligator’s appearance is its short, broad snout. An adult alligator’s skin is a gray-black color, which turns dark black when wet, and it has a white underbelly. Young alligators have yellow and white stripes across their backs. The shape of the snout and skin color provide physical characteristics that differentiate alligators from crocodiles, which have long, thin snouts and are a tan color.
Alligators are mainly nocturnal and do most of their hunting and feeding after the sun sets. They are carnivores and eat a large variety of food, such as turtles, fish, frogs, birds, snakes, small mammals, and even smaller alligators. However, once an alligator grows into adulthood, it really faces no threats—other than humans.