AlligatorsAlligators | Aquatic Plants | Crustaceans | Food Fish | Miscellaneous Species
Molluscs | Marine Ornamental | Ornamental Fish and Invertebrates
Most of Florida 's alligator farms are located in central and southern Florida to benefit from the warm temperatures which are needed for consistent growth. Much of the alligator farm-gate value derives from raw hides which are sold to international fashion markets. World economics combined with the merger of high-end fashion houses has resulted in good prices for flawless raw hides and little to no interest in number 2 and lower grade hides. Much of the Florida produced alligator meat is sold in Florida; however, with the difficult new grading standards, fewer animals are being harvested and the demand for meat is greater.
Alligator producers are working to create and satisfy new markets and solve disease problems impacting hide quality. During the late 1990s, alligator farmers and wild alligator trappers cooperatively created a Florida Alligator Marketing and Education Advisory Committee to identify and fund marketing and educational projects that will inform, educate and encourage alligator meat, leather, and other by-products consumption by the general public and commercial purchasers. Funding for projects supported by the Committee are derived from a portion of the alligator-related regulatory fees collected by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The Committee and Department have promoted American alligator leather during international leather product shows, developed and promoted alligator meat recipes, initiated alligator meat promotions in the Western United States, triggered furniture and fashion designs that incorporate alligator leather, and created consumer and trade educational literature to promote increased alligator product consumption (visit http://www.fl-alligator.com ).
Alligators are extremely resilient animals, the last of the living dinosaurs, but experience low on-farm reproductive rates and are prone to unique skin infections that reduce hide quality. The University of Florida investigated reproductive functions and recommended dietary and farm design improvements. Disease treatments are hampered by the lack of therapeutants labeled for alligators. Public investment is needed to: identify and treat skin infections that scar finished alligator leather, increase national and international promotional efforts, identify and test therapeutants, work on nutritional requirements for all alligator life stages (juvenile, yearling, and adult), develop markets for number 2 and number 3 graded hides, and expand out-of-state meat markets.