Surrounded by gators
A slow day is when you only see 9...
In over 60 years there have only been 23 deaths related to alligators in Florida. And 300 unprovoked bites. That's not bad, statistically speaking, especially when there are over 16,000 complaints per year - things like, there's an alligator in my pool, in my garage or on the 9th hole of my golf course!Fish & Wildlife in a roundabout way, say, if an alligator is less than four feet long, it's harmless unless you stick your hand in its mouth. Um, ok. I'll take their word for it.
Stupid is as stupid does, so there are things most locals know to stay safe. Don't swim near gators. Pay attention when you're walking along waterways (as they tend to walk across your path whenever and where ever they feel like), don't poke the bear and stay 50 feet away.
You leave them alone, they leave you alone.In the 1950s alligators were almost extinct, thanks to excessive hunting. By the 1980s they began to recover and now have a population of around one million.Alligator nests can reach 10 feet in diameter and are filled with between 25-45 eggs on average, some up to 90.After 65 days incubation, they hatch. The sex of the babies is determined by temperature. No, seriously!American alligators incubating their eggs at 33C (91.4F) will produce mostly male babies, while incubation temperatures below 30C (86F) result in mostly females.Up to 80% of juvenile alligators don't survive thanks to predators like raccoons, birds, snakes and even larger alligators.
Alligators don't hibernate but do go dormant when the weather gets too cold. They bury into a 'gator hole' and wait out the chillness. During this time they rarely eat, but don't fret. An alligator can go up to six months without food!Facts and figures aside, there is little that can compare to the spine tingling shock that hits you when you round a corner on a peaceful, tree-lined, Spanish moss filled trail, only to see a ten-foot gator cross your path.Thankfully, I hear adrenaline rushes are good for the heart.
|Don't worry. The zoom lens makes this look more ominous than it actually is!|
|Can you spot him?? |
|Circle Bar B Reserve trail in Lakeland, Florida|
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© Penny Rogers Photography