When it comes to cuddly animal images, regularly used in body art, it is unlikely that an alligator tattoo springs instantly to mind, however this is actually more popular than you would think due to its fascinating characteristics and potent symbolism. Its eyes are probably one of its more distinctive features, because this is often the only visible part of this reptile as it slinks beneath the surface leaving only the protruding eye resting above the water’s surface. As a predator, it is a very deadly assailant with its excellent sense of sound and its sensory organs, which act like an underwater radar allowing it to attack with stealth and accuracy.

It will also wait patiently, for an opportunity to ambush some unsuspecting prey and can remain submerged for several hours at a time. Therefore, it is not surprising that an alligator tattoo symbolizes covertness, staying power and hidden danger. If you spot someone with this kind of tattoo it could also be a warning that there is more to this individual than meets the eye.  As a totem however the symbolism concentrates more on the alligator’s more positive qualities which include speed and natural strength  but it also has a strong survival instinct. This species is renowned for its maternal love as it is fiercely protective of its eggs and young. An alligator tattoo can also be synonymous with wisdom as ancient civilizations believed it to be the guardian of ancient knowledge. However if you spot someone with this kind of tattoo it could also be a warning that there is more to this individual than meets the eye.

Alligators are a member of the crocodilian family and are quite similar to the crocodile however the main physical difference between the two is the snout. If you are looking at getting an alligator tattoo specifically then you may want to check these criteria on your chosen design to ensure it is not actually a crocodile. The snout of a crocodile is very long and narrow tapering into a v-shape while an alligator’s snout is much wider and resembles more of a u-shape. The alligator’s jaw also differs in that it has a wider upper jaw so when it closes its mouth, the lower jaw fits into the sockets of the upper part so that only a few teeth are exposed. The crocodile’s upper and lower jaws are the same size so the teeth are exposed all the way along the outer jaw line when it closes its mouth. Once again, you may want to bear that in mind when choosing the image for your body art, after all a tattoo is permanent so any mistakes in the design will be with you for life.

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