American Alligator (Flopsies by Aurora World)

Review and images by Bryan Divers; edited by bmathison1972

Alligators have held a unique appeal for me for many years since I was quite small. I remember watching an old VHS on reptiles in 2003 that prominently featured alligators. It was called “Crocodile Rocks: Itty Bitty Kiddy Wildlife.” The program played classic rock in the background, but was quite informative about alligators. I have always loved their smiley faces with long jaws, bony eyebrows, and spiky, flat backs and long tails. Crocodilians, like alligators, are among the closest living relatives to dinosaurs, outside of the birds. Some have even been kept successfully and developed bonds with the people who raised them. Crocodiles and alligators are also unique for being the only reptiles that care for their young. Alligators are generally smaller and less aggressive than crocodiles, and live in the southeastern United States and in China. The American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) has recovered phenomenally since its endangerment in the 1960s, but the Chinese alligator (A. sinensis) sadly remains endangered. Southern Florida is the only place in the world where crocodiles and alligators naturally coexist in the wild.

Enter Leah, a very appealing American alligator plush toy by Aurora World. She is about 12 inches long in general size, though her tail may add a couple more inches. Three furrows of green spikes run along her back and tail. Her eyes are yellow with amazing reptilian detail, down to having an alligator’s slit-like pupils! Her body is made of a dark olive green plush fabric with a creamy white belly. Her eyes and nostrils bulge at the top of her head–an alligator has these features to allow it to swim almost totally submerged with only their eyes and nostrils above the water. Leah has three-toed feet, and is very soft and squishy. A small bag of plastic beans appears to be in her lower abdomen, just between her back legs…this is probably to weight that part of her body so she sits in a good pose. This might not be good for very small children, but the same could be said of her plastic eyes…I really think this is more of a toy for older collectors than babies or very small children.

She is also a nice size for take-along, thanks to an alligator’s flat body shape, I can take her along in my pack without much bulk at all. I am waiting on an embroidered alligator patch and a brass alligator charm to put on my pack in her honor.

To be perfectly honest, it is hard to find another stuffed alligator as appealing for such a reasonable price. The Wild Republic Cuddlekins Alligator comes close, but in my opinion is too big. This animal is also less expensive at a very affordable $12.99. She is available at Stuffed Safari (where I got mine), Amazon, and probably other stores that sell realistic stuffed animals. You may even find her at an aquarium. I am unsure when she was released, but she is still in production going strong! Rating: 5 stars–because it’s hard to find another stuffed alligator that beats her! I let her sleep in a little pet bed by my pillows, and I like the notation in the company’s advertising for Leah: “Use your big friend to stay safe at night.” A final note is that Leah is the name I gave to her because of an alligator character in the novella I am writing, but this name is not directly associated with the toy by the manufacturer.

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Comments 8

  • Nice review of a cute plush, but I have to take issue with the claim “Crocodilians, like alligators, are probably the closest things we have left to dinosaurs”, which is absolutely incorrect.

    • Indeed. One need only look up in the sky or go on a walk in the woods or visit the pond in a local park to see living dinosaurs.

      • You know, that bugged me when preparing the post, but I didn’t feel it warranted re-writing someone else’s text. The fact that you guys were on it so quick made me think more about it.
        I re-edited the sentence to: “Crocodilians, like alligators, are among the closest living relatives to dinosaurs, outside of the birds.”

        • Good call, Mathison. I personally feel that alligators and crocodiles are more like dinosaurs, but there does seem to be a school of thought that birds are living dinosaurs. If that’s true, then perhaps we need to reevaluate the very meaning of the term “dinosaur.”

          • Well, it’s not really up for debate; systematics firmly places birds within ‘Dinosauria’ (or whatever the clade is referred to these days). ‘Dinosaur’ as historically used is not a taxonomic entity anyway.

            But I can understand what you mean, that crocodilians are ‘more like’ dinosaurs in the ‘classic’ sense, being large reptilian animals.

  • There’s no “seem” about it. Modern birds are dinosaurs as much as Velociraptor, Struthiomimus, and Oviraptor are dinosaurs. And a humble sparrow or pigeon or chicken has more traits in common with Tyrannosaurus rex than any crocodilian does.

    • Then I guess it’s just as well that my interest is branching into reptiles, because I’m just not a huge bird fan the way I am a dino man…I do like white ducks. Alligators and crocodiles, lizards and turtles are really unique. But sorry, when I think of animals to stand up next to Tyrannosaurus Rex, since you brought it up, I think of Albertosaurus, Allosaurus, and Dilophosaurus for dino relatives, and for modern relatives, the alligator and the Komodo dragon. Chickens just don’t really seem to belong in that group. Though I will grant you, some of the bones in the three-toed feet and claws are quite similar. But a T rex has no beak and a chicken has no teeth. No fingers with claws on a chicken, and no wings on a T. Rex. Crocodile teeth are different in shape from the D-shape core of T. Rex teeth…though the teeth of Baryonyx and Spinosaurus are quite similar to crocodile teeth…but a Komodo dragon or other monitor lizard have nearly identically shaped teeth, despite the difference in size. It has been brought out that very large animals can maintain a constant body temperature even if technically cold-blooded or ectothermic, because the body’s mass absorbs and retains heat so well. And I suspect that the Tyrant lizard king probably relied on fast ambush bursts of speed like Komodo dragons or alligators to catch prey and was not built for long protracted chases over land. Just saying, dinosaurs share traits with both birds and reptiles.

      • I don’t understand why Tyrannosaurus and chickens are the automatic go-to when comparing birds and dinosaurs. As if there weren’t others to directly compare. Hawks and eagles are basically flying dromaeosaurs. No, a T. rex doesn’t have a beak, but there are plenty of dinosaurs that did have beaks. And no, chickens don’t have teeth, but extinct birds like Confuciusornis did, and modern mergansers have tooth-like projections coming off their beaks used to catch fish. Chickens do have fingers, 3 of them in fact, with two of them fused together. Chickens also have a claw on one of those fingers, that’s just one less claw than a T. rex has. A lot of birds have claws on their fingers. The similarity between birds and dinosaurs doesn’t end with the 3 (actually 4) toed feet. The long S curved neck, the orientation of the legs under the body, hollow bones, bipedal posture. It sounds like you reject the scientific consensus that birds are dinosaurs merely because you don’t want them to be dinosaurs. But the science is correct, even if you don’t like it. This stuff isn’t decided on the basis of personal feelings or opinions.

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