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Varmint of the Month: Alligator

Posted 7/5/2017

See ya’ later Alligator! 

Catcher Dan 1982

One of Florida’s biggest attractions has to be the American Alligator, which is why they are our pick for Varmint of the Month. After all, it is not just anywhere someone will see a living fossil relaxing on the side of the road. That’s right! Alligators and Crocodiles have been around for millions of years making them truly a living fossil. There are some slight differences between the American Alligator and the Crocodile. For one, the crocodile has a more V-Shaped snout and head compared to the alligator and can be much more aggressive. Crocodiles can be found all over the world, and can adapt better in saltwater, whereas the alligator is found mainly in the fresh water of China and parts of the United States. Despite their differences, the Florida Everglades is the only place in the whole world that they both call home.

These cold blooded reptiles can weigh as much as 1000 pounds and grow well over 13 feet. Females can lay up to 46 eggs at one time, usually in the beginning of summer. The eggs will incubate for a couple months, and then hatchlings arrive between August and September. Although it sounds like a lot of eggs at one time, an average of only 24 eggs will make it to hatchlings because of predators raiding the nest. Out of those 24 hatchlings, usually only 10 will make it to one year of age. It’s rough out in the wild if you are a gator, adult alligators will eat a juvenile if he becomes easy prey. Alligators are opportunists when it comes to finding a bite to eat. They will prey upon fish, small mammals and other reptiles to satisfy their hunger. An alligator’s bite comes with over 2,000 pounds of force, but the muscles to open the jaws are much weaker. Although awkward on land, running about 11 MPH, they are quick in the water and can swim up to 20 MPH. Never feed the alligators if you see them in the wild. If humans begin to feed alligators, the gators will not fear humans and look at them as a food source. This is when alligators become a nuisance. Always stay a close distance away and call the professionals if you have a nuisance alligator problem.

To see a gator in the wild, take a drive down Tamiami Trail East, through Big Cypress National Preserve. Make sure the gas tank is full and pack a lunch. There are areas to stop along the way to snap some photos or just breathe in the fresh Florida air. Keep in mind the gators are not the only thing to sightsee, the history here is unbelievable! But we’ll have to save that for next time.

After a while crocodile,

Goldie Locks 

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