See You Later, Baby Gator
Alligators are booming, thanks to attentive moms who protect their offspring from predators – like dad.
Photography By Denise Ritchie
Babies aren’t dangerous unless, of course, you trip over their mother. In general, alligators are docile creatures. If you think one poses a threat, call the Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-FWC-Gator.
Fierce alligator eyes peer above the still, green waters of the marsh. The powerful tail paddles from side to side, propelling the dark, lizard-like body. The dangerous reptile crawls from the water and prowls through tall grass near the muddy shore. A blue heron croaks in alarm and flaps away. But the heron has nothing to fear today, for the alligator is not hungry. It is late June and the 8-year-old is searching for the perfect place to build her first nest.
The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) estimates that Florida is home to more than a million alligators including hatchlings and adults. From mid-April through May, you might hear the courtship bellow of male alligators trying to attract a female and do their part in propagating the species. Later, the males get to wallow in the mud and bask in the sun. Building a nest, protecting the eggs and raising the hatchlings are responsibilities left to the female.
Read the entire article in the May 2011 issue