Gator Basking in the SunAn American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), basking in the sun on the bank of a lagoon in Hilton Head, South Carolina. Alligators are what is known as apex predators, because there is no animal that preys on them. They are vital to the ecology of wetlands in southern USA, eating rodents and other animals that would soon overwhelm the ecosystem if they were not kept in check. Although young, this gator already has deep scars on his snout, probably from fighting for territory with his littermates.This image is copyright and may not be used without specific authorization. Permission is explicitly denied for Pinterest.