This American Alligator was one of 15 or 20 that I spotted lounging along the banks of the waterways of Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive the other day.
“American alligators are large crocodilians found only in the United States. They can grow to be more than 12 feet (3.6 meters) in length and weigh as much as 1,000 pounds (450 kilograms), with males being slightly larger than females on average. The animal’s dark skin is armored with small, bony scales called scutes”(National Wildlife Federation).
“Alligators are ectothermic (cold blooded). They regulate their body temperature by basking in the sun or moving to areas with warmer or cooler air or water temperatures” (Florida Fish and Wildlife) Although they appear sluggish and docile at rest, gators can be dangerous and move very fast when surprised or when they sense a threat to their nest or young.
Although I photographed this gator in Central Florida, “…perhaps no other animal is more closely identified with the Everglades than the American alligator.“ This National Park Service Species Profile includes more fascinating information about this important keystone species.