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#86 Chinese Alligator

Critically Endangered

Also known as the Yangtze alligator, but my favourite common name for any of the animals I've painted, these are also called "The Muddy Dragon"! It makes me love these even more. They dig tunnels, with different chambers and pools. They stay in them when it is too cold out. These are so tiny in comparison to the American alligators, about half the size or even less. They are typically only about 5 feet long. The largest ever measured was 7 feet 1 inch, and Chubbs the alligator who is famous for meandering around a Florida golf course is about 15 feet long. They usually weigh only 50 pounds but can be up to 90. They can live for up to 70 years. Unlike the American alligators they are fairly docile, and interactions with humans typically end poorly for the alligator instead of the person. They are killed by farmers because they are considered a nuisance (their tunnels can collapse and be a problem, and they steal the occasional chicken). There is a successful captive breeding program started, and they have released some back into the wild. Even still, it is thought there may only be about 100 left in the wild. The loss of habitat is their biggest problem.

Most of them looked like they really should have invested in a dental hygiene program. They have a goofy mix of large and tiny teeth, often point every which way. I think the one I painted has a dentist friend, it has nice straight-ish and fairly clean teeth. When we took our kids to the dentist for the first time it was one that wasn't within our insurance program but supposedly excellent with kids. He told us they had a ton of cavities. I can't remember how many, but it was along the lines of one kid having 7 and the other 9. We couldn't afford to get their cavities filled outside of the network, so we went to a dentist who was not just a kids' dentist. We expected him to have to do a lot of work, but he looked at their teeth and said they were perfect. Now at 16 and 19 they still haven't had a single cavity. People often doctor shop for regular doctors but forget they can do the same for dentists. Remember, you can get a second opinion if you need to.

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