Alligators in the Everglades
The American alligator, Alligator mississippiensis, is the largest reptile in North America. Alligators have been around for millions of years, they’re about as close as we will probably ever get to seeing a living dinosaur. They are dark in color (usually black), with a rounded snout and a thick “armored” body. Bony plates inside the skin, called osteoderms or scutes, make the skin very hard to penetrate. They have a powerful tail that is half the alligators length. Male gators can grow up 11 to 14 feet, 500 to 800 pounds, but a 1,000 pound gator is not unusual. Female alligators rarely exceed 10 feet in length and are about half the weight of a male. Alligators are cold-blooded, meaning that they cannot regulate their own body temperature. For this reason, it is common to catch gators sunbathing on the banks of the Everglades waters, sometimes seen with open mouths to cool themselves. Aside from being dangerous and a little bit scary, the alligator is truly an awesome animal.
Alligators aren’t picky when it comes to eating. Alligators are carnivorous. They are also opportunistic predators and will eat anything that comes their way. They eat fish, snails and other invertebrates, birds, frogs and mammals of just about any size…They have extremely powerful jaws that can crack turtle shells and bones with ease. They use their razor sharp teeth to seize and hold their prey, swallowing small prey whole. If the prey is large, they shake it apart into smaller, manageable pieces. Alligators don’t eat humans, but they are territorial animals and will attack if you get too close or threaten their young.
The American alligator lives in the southern United States , from North Carolina to Texas to the southern tips of Florida. They live in fresh water and brackish environments. Lakes, ponds, canals, slow moving rivers and swamps . Over 1.5 million alligators call Florida home and close to 200,000 alligators are living here in the Florida Everglades. The Everglades National Park is the only eco system in the world where you will find both the American alligators and crocodiles co-existing side by side, nature tours with The River Of Grass are the best alligator adventures.
How long do alligators live – Lifespan
American alligators live about 50 years in the wild, but a healthy alligators can live well beyond. There are reports of an alligator living 100 years in captivity. Life in the wild can be tough, about 1/3 of alligator nest are destroyed by predators or flooding. The average clutch size of an alligator nest is 38, of which only about 24 hatchlings will emerge. Only about 10 of these hatchling will make it to 1 year old. It is common for momma alligators to stay with their young for the first year. A mother alligator can be very protective while watching over her nest and young hatchlings. If an alligator makes it to 5 years old, chances are good they will survive to be a 6 foot plus gator some day.
FUN ALLIGATOR FACTS
~Alligators have 74 to 80 teeth. They can have up to 3,000 teeth in a lifetime. When lost, worn down or broken they are replaced! If only humans were so lucky….
~ The sex of the alligator is determined by the temperature of the eggs. Temperatures of 31 C (87.8 F) or below produce females, 32 C (89.6 F) produces 75 percent males and 32.5 C (90.5 F) and above are mostly females.
~ The alligator became the official state reptile of Florida in 1987 –
~ Alligator farms are a multi-million dollar industry. Raising alligators for their meat and skin.
~ The Alligator has 2 sets of eyelids. An outer eyelid that is made of thick skin and an inner eyelid that is clear. The inner eyelids protect the alligator’s eyes and provide clearer vision in the underwater environment
Ready to explore the Everglades?
Airboat tours in the Everglades National Park with alligators and crocodiles OH MY! The River Of Grass is ready for adventure, come take a ride with us!
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