I guess this should go without saying (!) . . . .But sometimes humans really need to be reminded about the importance of being VERY cautious in areas where American Alligators are present.American Alligators are truly a relic from the past (National Geographic). These prehistoric-looking creatures, who are common in the wetlands of the southern U.S., were once on the Endangered Species List, but since 1987, are considered recovered. (U.S. Fish & Wildlife)The preserves, parks, refuges and sanctuaries we have frequented usually provide excellent signage, reminding visitors not to disturb the wildlife, including the Alligators, who live there.It is genuinely a highly serious matter to respect Alligators – and to take every precaution – when one enters into their territory. When sunning themselves or gliding slowly by in the water, gators may appear deceptively docile, but can be extremely dangerous if approached, especially near their nest. Often, only their snouts appear above the surface of the water, but sometimes, gators appear to be trying to camouflage themselves when in full view, like this fellow snoozing in his ‘camo jacket’ in the sand above.Female American Alligators generally grow to be about 10 feet long, while male adults can be 12-14+ feet in length (Florida Fish & Wildlife). Right now – late August to September – is the time that baby gators hatch, following an incubation period of about two-months. If you look closely at the iPhone shot above, you can glimpse a female near her nest by the water’s edge.
She listens for the hatchlings’ calls, and when they are ready to emerge, the mother assists by clearing away the brush she used to hide her nest, and carrying the babies gently in her mouth to the water (Crocodilian.com).When you spot baby or juvenile yellow-striped Alligators, the mother is nearly always VERY close by. American Alligator mothers care for the young, who grow about 1 foot in length per year, for a year or more (National Park Service). From a typical litter of 35+ hatchlings, usually only 5 survive till full adulthood.As described in the sign above, ‘Alligator Holes‘, like the one below, are often found where Alligators are common. This large Alligator Hole also provides a wonderful habitat for many types of wetland birds, as well as fish and other aquatic animals.
“The story of the American alligator is one of both drastic decline and complete recovery. A story of State and Federal cooperation, it is truly one of the prominent successes of the Nation’s endangered species program.” (U.S. Fish & Wildlife)