Posted in: Animal Sightings, National Park, National Parks, School, Sightseeing

Turtles, Mosquitos and Alligators…OH MY!

Although we have seen plenty of turtles and been bitten by many mosquitoes, this post is mostly about my favorite, alligators. My kids may be getting sick of me pointing out an alligator every time I see one, especially since we see them all over the place in the South (Florida, Georgia and South Carolina). I’m not sure why, but I get a huge kick out of seeing these guys in the wild. We saw some decent sized alligators (as well as some crocodiles) in the Everglades National Park, Florida. We even got to see one with it’s mouth open!

At our campground in South Carolina, we saw several smaller ones on the nearby walking trail in the ponds. One looked very young, only 2-3 feet long. The campground’s alligators were not even close to being the same size as the ones in the Everglades, so I felt pretty safe walking around the walking path as long as we all stayed aware.

The boys certainly enjoyed the first several ones we saw and it was a great teaching opportunity to slide in some alligator facts. I have some of these facts below!

Fun alligator facts:

Alligators have about 80 teeth and as the old ones get worn down, new ones come in.

Alligators can hear underwater.

Alligators vs Crocodiles: We saw both in the Everglades. It was a great teaching moment.

Alligators have a rounded snout and are dark grey/black in color. Alligators also do not normally show bottom teeth with their mouth closed.

Crocodiles have a pointed snout and are a grey/brown/green color. Crocodiles bottom and top teeth are visible with their mouth closed. Crocodiles tend to be more aggressive.

An alligator can live up to 50 years. They continue to grow throughout their life.

The power in an alligator’s jaw comes in closing, they do not have a lot of jaw opening strength.

To estimate an alligators size from a distance, calculate the length from the tip of their nose to the eye ridge. One inch of distance here is equal to one foot of total length.

Alligators dig burrows (holes, tunnels) and once they move out, other animals move in. These holes are very important, as they can be deep and hold water, even when other areas have dried up.

Alligators can climb, short fences and even ladders, although we did not see any on stilts or ladders during our encounters.

To get away from an alligator, just run in a straight line 20-30 ft, no zig-zag required. To be safe, I would keep running.

They can leap out of the water using their tail, up to 5 feet!

They will balance sticks on their snout to attract birds…to eat.

They do not hibernate, but they do have times where they are dormant when the weather is too cold (below 55℉).

Mating season is May to June. Eggs hatch in Mid-August to September.

The babies gender is determined by the temperature in the nest. The mom will stay with her eggs and protect them for a year to two after they hatch.

If you have any great Alligator or Crocodile stories, we would love to hear them. Post them in the comments.

LINKS:

US Fish & Wildlife Service

Smithsonian

Britannica

Kissimmee

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