Gator Watching in Florida

Salt water croc. Evil bastards.

Today’s featured post was sent over to me by Laura, and is all about those scary reptiles that lurk in the dark depths of the swamp. My experiences in Australia gave me a healthy respect for crocodiles, but I’ve never seen an alligator, and boy, do they look mean! If you want to experience them in the wild, you’ll have to head to either the US or China, as today’s post reveals…

Although many people will associate a holiday in Florida with trips to Walt Disney World Resort and major film studio theme parks attractions, there is in fact a wealth of natural beauty there too, including some of nature's most fearsome creatures.

A world away from the highly commercialised atmosphere of Orlando's shopping malls and retail outlets, the other side of Florida is epitomised by the one of the most famous national parks in the USA: The Everglades.

As the coastline of "The Sunshine State" is over 1,300 miles long and the land low lying, a great deal of Florida is inland waterways and swampland. In amongst this almost unique habitat there is a wide range of wildlife and that includes one of the most fearsome creatures on the planet, namely the alligator.

Alligators

There are two living alligator species, the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) and the Chinese alligator (Alligator sinensis). Alligators first appeared about 37 million years ago and many people think of them, quite rightly, as a kind of 'living fossil'.

The name alligator is an English version of 'el lagarto' which means "the lizard" in Spanish and which was coined by early settlers to the region.

alligator by flickr user ucuman

The largest alligator ever recorded was found in Louisiana and measured more than 19 ft in length. They can live to over 70 years old but the only other place alligators are found in the world is China.

Everglades

The Everglades are tropical wetlands that begin near Orlando and extend to Florida Bay at the southern end of the state. The Everglades form a complex system of interdependent ecosystems including cypress swamps, estuarine mangrove forests, pine rockland and the marine environment of Florida Bay.

The area is also the largest National Park in the USA and is recognised for its ecological importance. Alligators are just one of the many types of wildlife native to the Everglades but coincidentally one of the most unusual and impressive.

alligator by flickr user ucumari 2

Gator Tours

Guided tours to view alligators in their natural environment are extremely popular and offer any visitor to Florida a unique experience. The chance to be just feet away from a live alligator in their own habitat is something that many people see as an excursion of a lifetime.



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