Alligators

Fully matured alligator in the bush at Shark Valley. The open mouth makes cooling easier.

Alligators are wild and dangerous animals and should be regarded with extreme caution. This hazardous characteristic may be part of their attraction. The species has been in existence almost unchanged for tens of millions of years. They are survivors even in the face of human encroachment in their space. Because of human activity the survival of the alligators is threatened. Despite the apparent stillness they can react very quickly. They eat meat and can take down an adult deer, otter, turtle, raccoon, iguana another alligator or anything else which comes its way in a short distance reach. The bulk of their diet is probably rats or mice. This is our fresh water apex predator. This posting is a prelude to a posting that will later describe a relationship of the alligators and a specific bird nesting location.

Every morning I look out to the pond at the house and see the local “gator” cruising the surface of the water with just the eyes and nose above the surface. On occasion, they will haul themselves out to lie on the grass usually within 20 feet of the bank. If it sees a person it quickly slips back into the water. Obviously the alligator in the pond is not the same throughout the season because it is variable in size however there they are very territorial. Usually only one at any time be seen. On rare occasions a larger one will walk out of the water and cross the street, perhaps to find a more solitary place to or to find a mate during mating season.

Alligator eyes and nose criusing on pond in front of me. The rest of it just disappears.
Adult alligator lying in the open grass, eyes closed, to keep warm in front of my house. Let sleeping alligators lay.

Alligators are aquatic reptiles which live on and near the ponds, creeks, streams, swamps or just about any other piece of water. They tolerate brackish water but not oceanic salt water. They are ectothermic (cold blooded) and regulate their body heat by sunning or shading, breathing, resting in the water.

They are relatively solitary, meeting to mate in late spring. Occasionally one can hear the slapping and bellowing of a male in the swamp at night as it tries to attract a female. After weeks of gestation the female may lay as many as 60 eggs in a ground based nest approximating the water. The nest is covered with a blanket of leaves which hold the heat of the day. The hatchlings break through the shell and emerge after three months. The new born are vulnerable and protected by the mother from predation for as much as a year. The survival rate to maturity is about 15%.

They have complex social lives in the wild about which very little is known. Much of their behavior studies are based on observations of captive animals. The maturation stages are egg, hatchling, juvenile, sub-adults, mature.

American alligator Identification marks:

  • Blunt nose
  • Black in color
  • Upper teeth show when mouth is closed
  • Yellow marks on young
Sharpening its hunting skills in the rough of Six Mile Cyprus preserve. This jeuvenile eats fish, bugs and worms.
A clutch of nesting immature alligators with orange markings in the rough of Shark Valley. The temperature over the last month has been in the mid 90 F degree so they are probably all male.
Young alligator with yellow markings; Shark Valley
Still small but maturing with loss of orange marks. Top teeth show when mouth is closed. At the Wonder Gardens
Mature Florida alligator. A long time captive at the Wonder Garden was replaced with a new bunch.
As I walked about my Florida neighborhood I saw this beautiful 11 foot male sunning on the edge of the water. It was one of two resident in the larger lake. This one is pictured on the header of this site because it represents the primitive, untamed wilderness so close to our lives. Only the males grow to this size.

Later we will compare alligators and crocodiles both of which can be easily seen at the Naples Zoo.

Alligators appear to be so primitive and powerful; and they are. Awesome!

See these references from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for a more comprehensive description:

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#Alligator #primitive #teeth #yellow marks #ectotherm #predator #apex predator

2 thoughts on “Alligators

Add yours

  1. Alligators are fascinating animals. They basically ignore people and dive into the water when you get too close! I love to watch them in my pond anytime! Thanks for sharing these interesting pictures

    Like

  2. Yikes, in FRONT of your house and also while you were on a walk!

    Btw, in your last paragraph you refer to a beautiful alligator.

    Those two words are like saying military intelligence. They just don’t go together.

    Sent from my Galaxy

    Like

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