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Several years ago I did a blog post on alligators, which featured photos of some fine specimens I’d encountered in the Everglades, as well as a brief discussion of their life history. I’ve not a lot to add to that, but I did learn something interesting during my recent trip to the River of Grass. Alligator mothers protect their young hatchlings for up to 2 years. I had no idea that the maternal instinct was so strong in these reptiles. It makes sense for the survival of the species, because baby alligators are at the bottom of the food chain. The photo of a mother and her hatchlings below prove it.
You won’t see alligators at every stop in the Everglades, but …
Florida is home to lots of alligators, and there’s probably no better place to see your fill of them in one day than at Gatorland.
Gatorland was Orlando’s first large attraction, starting way back in 1949 when Disney and Universal hadn’t even thought of using the region for theme parks. Back then Seminole Indians would wrestle the gators for tourists, and the classic gator jaws at the park’s entrance (top photo) were photographed tens of thousands of times. Because of the extensive development of the Orlando region, there are many fewer gators around today but there’s still lots of them in the state.
Gatorland is a family-run, family -oriented place that reminded me a little of Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park …
Alligators fascinate and repel me. They’re amazingly graceful in the water, powerful and agile, and are obviously highly successful predators. But it’s their predatory aspect I find repelling. When one of them turns its soulless eyes on you, it feels as though you’re being sized up for dinner. I’m reminded of the classic Gary Larson “FarSide” cartoon. Two crocs with bloated bellies are lying on a riverbank, a broken canoe beside them. One croc tells the other (and I’m paraphrasing) — “That was incredible. No scales, no horns, no fur — just soft and pink!” We humans are those soft pink treats they seem to desire.
Alligators are quite photogenic. Take a look at these shots from Orlando’s fun “Gatorland” park:
Alligators are fascinating animals. Large, primitive, with alert eyes that, like any good predator’s, follow you wherever you go. I must admit that when they fix their unblinking eyes on me, the hair stands up on my neck. They are six inches long when they’re born, but as fully grown adults can reach a length of almost 20 ft (more than 6 meters). Once a threatened species, they’ve recovered and you’ll find them in freshwater swamps and lakes of the southeast.
I recently visited Orlando with my father and one day was spent at the fun old-fashioned amusement park, Gatorland. There are several shows at this venue, including one featuring alligator wrestling. This is not a violent sport …
There’s sometime viscerally disconcerting about looking into the eyes of an alligator. Dark, non-blinking, but clearly focused on you, it sends a shiver up my spine. Something being tickled in the primitive parts of my brain — prey intuitively recognizing a successful killing and eating machine that has survived for millions of years. They sure look menacing with those armored bodies, powerful tails and dozens of sharp teeth, like the apex predators they are.
My instincts make me back off and keep a good distance, and that’s good advice for everyone — stay at least 4 m (13 ft) from alligators (and crocodiles) because over a 2 meter distance there’s no faster attack animal on the planet. You won’t have a …