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Gator Facts, Gator Info

Everything you ever wanted to know about Gators

History

The American alligator (Alligator Mississipiensis), which is commonly referred to as the American "Gator", currently thrives in the vast wetlands of Florida. However, this was not always the case. Facing possible extinction, these cold-blooded reptiles were added to the national endangered species list in 1967. The severe decline of Gator in Florida and other regions of the U.S. was due primarily to excessive market hunting and habitat loss. Despite their near extinction in the 60's, the Florida gator was able to make a full recovery and was taken of the endangered species list in 1987. The gator’s amazing come-back was made possible only through a great collaborative effort at both the state and federal levels. The passing of various gator protection laws, and the establishment of important programs that monitor gator populations were key elements in the survival of the Florida gator. Even today these state and federal guidelines work together to protect and secure the gator population for further generations. On occasion, people misspell alligator as 'aligator' which is why its easier to just call them 'gators'.

Habitats

The Florida gator currently resides in various wetlands, swamps, rivers, creeks, ponds, canals, and any other fresh body of water that it can find in Florida. It has even been discovered that some Florida Gator have declared residency in brackish water, claiming various estuaries and marshes as home. The most famous of all Florida gator habitats is the Florida Everglades. This one of a kind ecosystem supports numerous unique species of animals and vegetation. Unfortunately, the Everglades faces possible annihilation, which will mean the loss of numerous important animal and plant life, including the Florida gator.

Eating Habits

Gator are carnivores and primarily feed at night. They will eat almost anything that is smaller than they are. Their diet includes, fish, birds, small mammals, snakes, turtles and even other Gator. Florida homes that reside along lakes and other bodies of water must be aware of any neighboring Gator, especially if the home owner has pets. Gator generally avoid humans, however they have been known to occasionally prey on pets. In response to this and other gator related problems, Florida established a nuisance control program in 1978.

Physical Appearance

Adult Gator are black, have large rounded snouts and razor sharp teeth. Gator are generally between 6-14 feet in length and live between 50-60 years. The largest recorded gator in history, measured twenty feet in length. One of the most important and strongest features of the Florida gator is its powerful tail, which accounts for half of its length. This vital appendage can be used as both a deadly weapon and a method of self-propulsion in the water. With this in mind, a Florida gator can stealthily cut through water with razor-like precision by just making a few graceful movements with its agile tail.

Some Interesting Information about Gator

Along with various other talents, Gator are capable of floating slightly above the surface of water. When Gator do this type of "dead man’s float" in the water, their camouflaged bodies complimented by their water buoyancy give these sneaky creatures the appearance of a harmless log adrift in the water. By mimicking a piece of dead wood, Gator allow nearby animal bystanders to feel at ease with a false sense security while the Florida Gator is provided with an opportunity to catch dinner. One talent that Gator lack is the ability to run fast on land. Gator were built for speed in the water, however they were poorly designed for running long distances on land. It is true that Florida Gator can obtain moderately fast speeds on land for short distances, however, they lack the endurance necessary to sustain those speeds for any considerable amount of time.

Reproduction

Breeding season for the Florida gator begins in the Spring. During this time of year, female Gator keep themselves busy with building nests for their future young. Gator nests are primarily composed of decaying vegetation, sticks, mud, and leaves. Gator will construct their nests in areas that are both convenient to water and well sheltered. These nests can be several feet high and span across 6 feet of shoreline. A female gator produces between 20- 50 white eggs that are similar in size to a goose egg. Once laid, gator eggs are covered up with decaying vegetation. This rotting plant life serves as a heat blanket, which incubates the gator eggs for somewhere around 65 days. The temperature at which the eggs are heated determines the sex of each gator hatchling. A baby gator is about 9 inches long at hatching and weighs in at a mere 2 ounces. On average young Gator will grow rapidly (one foot each year) until they reach age six.

The Gator Boom

Both human and alligator populations have been growing tremendously in the state of Florida. Because of that, humans are forced to build more homes closer to where the alligators live. Officials blame that for the rise in alligator attacks over the last year.

How Common Are Alligator Attacks?

Alligator attacks, despite popular belief, are extremely rare. There have been 419 people that were bitten from alligators since 1948. Out of that, only 20 were fatal. Nost gator attacks occur when people swim in bodies of water where gators may be present. Sometimes tourists that feed alligators can create confusion, misrepresenting the human for food. Almost all attacks occur in Florida--around 90%. The only other state that records a death related to an alligator attack is Georgia, and it's only 1 death.

How Do I Survive An Alligator Attack?

Common sense plays a big role in life-threatening situations. Always use it. If you are attacked, the best way to defend yourself is not by running, but by fighting it, as hard as you can. Scream, yell, beat on it, be violent towards it. Once an alligator lets go of its prey in the water, generally the fight is over.

Gators have been around for millions of years, and it is likely, they will remain for millions more. Click here to read about a real life story of a gator attack.

 

Razor Gator is not associated with the University of Florida Gators, Gatorade, or RazorGator Ticket Sales.

Last updated March 2017. Over 3,188,000 page views.
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