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1…2…3 Gator Mounds & Their Protectors

Twenty million years as a resident of planet Earth, and counting…. Scientists believe that the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) resembles animals that inhabited our planet as long as 100-150 million years ago — and that they may be linked to creatures dating 50-65 million years ago, managing to avoid the extinction that killed off the dinosaurs, their prehistoric contemporaries.

I’ve posted images of alligator courtship, several on the gator babies (with more on the way — updates to our wetland babies!) — but we now have alligator nests to watch. At least 3 nests in one wetland preserve alone — with the momma gators keeping diligent guard. Alligator nests (or mounds) are built by the female, and comprised of vegetation, sticks, and mud. They’re usually located in a sheltered spot in or near the water. She lays 20-50 eggs, and covers them under more vegetation which heats as it decays, serving to incubate the eggs. The female will remain near the nest throughout the 65-day incubation period, protecting it. If a mother alligator is killed or removed, she can’t protect her nest or young — dooming the hatchlings. *Leave wildlife alone!*

It’s always wise, and healthy (wink) to know what a gator nest looks like (see below!), if you’re a hiker in our area — momma will most definitely be nearby!

Female Alligator Guarding Her Nest

Female Alligator… Keeping a Watchful Eye on Her Nest

Small Female Alligator Guarding Nest, Surrounded by Pond Apples

An Alligator Mound at the Water’s Edge

Alligator Mound from August ’11 — Newly Hatched

28 Comments Post a comment
  1. Yikes I think cougars and black bears are easier to navigate. Really informative post and detailed photos.

    July 6, 2012
    • Heh… I don’t think so, lol! We’ve been hiking in areas with bears and cougars, and I’ve been more scared than I’ve ever been, glancing around like a crazed loon. I’m so accustomed to navigating our swamps and wetlands, and their inhabitants — I really think it’s what one is used to seeing, and reaching that comfort level (while maintaining much RESPECT). Glad you enjoyed, though! 🙂

      July 6, 2012
  2. I enjoyed this post, and I agree with you – LEAVE WILDLIFE ALONE.
    Human beings perpetrate so much destruction on other species on this planet, it just get to me, sometimes. Why, oh why, oh why don’t human beings see the error of their ways?
    Thank for a fantastic post.

    July 6, 2012
    • Seriously! While many appreciate the natural order and its critters, I’ve witnessed some horrific events — especially with the alligators. It’s like the school bully going after the big, quiet kid. Fierce, scary reptiles? Let’s torment and maim! IDIOTS. (Well, I have other words for them…) Glad you enjoyed tho!

      I’m learning about the extermination of dingoes now from booksforever1blog — WOW. No idea what was happening in Australia, with yet another maligned species:

      July 6, 2012
      • I’m checking it out. More reasons for me to get pissed off at human beings…
        This may seem cruel, but I think we need negative zero human population growth for at least ten years to straighten things out a LITTLE. 😦

        July 6, 2012
      • It’s so hard not to get angry… Especially in these situations. I just try soooo hard to focus on all the *good* that people like this are doing — and spread the word on their behalf. I posted to my FB page. 🙂

        July 6, 2012
  3. Thanks for sharing – I think gators are interesting creatures – look prehistoric too! Have a Wonderful Weekend:)

    July 6, 2012
    • I agree; I find them absolutely fascinating (and maligned) critters. And, VERY primitive in their appearance — seemingly little-evolved from those millions of years! They’re quite a sight, hiding in our swamps — talk about a prehistoric vibe.

      July 7, 2012
  4. Interesting! They are very prehistoric looking.

    July 6, 2012
    • VERY much so — seemingly little-evolved from those millions of years! They’re quite a sight, hiding in our swamps — talk about a prehistoric vibe.

      July 7, 2012
  5. Pam #

    Outstanding! I’ve never come across a gator nest in the wild. Still hoping for a picture of mama with baby gators!

    July 6, 2012
    • They’re so well camouflaged — but when we see one, we’re always immediately on guard, because we know momma’s around! I do have a few pics of one momma and her babies from a few months ago (3?) in “Alligator Babies” — — but I can’t wait for the next round!!

      July 7, 2012
  6. That’s a nice pair of shoes!! Just kidding, of course. Gators used to show up in my neighborhood lake from time to time (Louisiana). Wildlife and Fisheries agents would catch them and relocate them. Scary creatures!

    July 8, 2012
    • Ah yes… We live on the edge of the ‘Glades, so they’re a BIG part of our lives. Just this week my guy was saving a turtle, ran him to a lake, and startled a hiding gator. The gator jumped out of the water like he was electrocuted, lol… I don’t know which one was more scared. 🙂

      July 8, 2012
      • Oh my! I love living in the swamp!

        July 8, 2012
  7. I am so happy there are noone like this around here. Interesting.

    July 8, 2012
    • Hee… I think it’s what one’s accustomed to! I’ve been hiking in areas with bears (something we’re NOT accustomed to), and I’ve been in a complete panic!

      July 8, 2012
  8. I enjoy taking photos of alligators… they are truly photogenic, strange as that seems. I understand the fear factor, however. Big snapping jaws and ever, so ever primitive.

    July 12, 2012
    • I LOVE photographing these guys — I totally agree with you, in that they’re photogenic… They’re amazing creatures, remnants from a different time. Of course, we’re always very careful — most of the images you see are taken in their natural habitat (out on hikes), so we’re in their world, at their level… Oftentimes walking through their swamp. Literally. 🙂

      July 13, 2012
  9. Greetings from sub-zero Minneapolis! I came to your great post thanks to the current storyline in MARK TRAIL– I’d never heard of “gator mounds”– thanks for the info.

    January 9, 2015
    • That’s fantastic! I just visited your page and had a good laugh. 🙂

      They can be easy to miss, if you’re not looking (especially with all the vegetation around here)… But if you’re keen to the time of the year, and the nearby environment — you definitely want to be a bit heads-up when you see one!

      January 20, 2015
  10. I have to admit they are beautiful, BUTTTT-not too eager to run into that on a hike! The worst we see on a hike may be a timber rattler! Possibly a mound near the water but just a beaver:-) You really do need to know what you are doing to hike near those creatures. They sure are stunning!

    February 4, 2015
    • Most definitely — primeval and fierce, but honestly, if it’s not breeding or baby season, they’re quite shy of humans. VERY timid. But… You don’t want to count on that, hahah! A bit of knowledge goes a long way in hiking. I wouldn’t know what to do with BEARS, for instance! Or a rattler… I ran into one in the Everglades, and bolted like a maniac. Probably NOT the right thing to do. 🙂

      February 5, 2015
      • lol…no bears can climb trees too so don’t climb one thinking he can’t get you! My cousins live in Lake Tahoe, California. They use to never have bears break in or come near their homes. I use to visit as a kid and never saw a bear around. BUT not now-they are breaking into their homes. They open the fridge! LOL
        I did walk over a huge timber rattler when I was hiking with my son ( he was 5 at the time) and I walked over the snake he slid between my legs ( the gap). My father is not the type to jump he grabbed my son and yelled at me since I was a few feet ahead. I turned and looked at the tail end ( his rattle-YIKES-he had more than a few) of the snake going into to the green area along the path. His markings were beautiful! He was going towards the water and I was not a threat our paths crossed-literally-LOL. I was jumpy all night for he was HUGE and now when I hike at my parents place, I am looking at the corners of the path all the time!

        February 6, 2015
      • I’ve heard about that phenomena — and how it’s all tied to their disappearing habitat, and food sources (invasion bugs eating their berries by the thousands upon thousands of acres through North America)…. I would be terrified, though!!!

        Holy cow. I would have caused such a ruckus, that the snake would have had NO OTHER option than to bite me, hahah! Poor guy was just doing his thing, too… I’ve nearly stepped on MANY snakes in my hikes, but they’ve all been big, harmless types. Still a fun little surprise. 🙂

        February 9, 2015
      • My aunt told me that you can’t even leave a stick of gum on the window sill for the bear smells it and will come in through the window (Tahoe-Calif)! All her grandchildren know-” do not leave a pack of gum on grandma’s window sill”-:-) Or ELSE!

        February 9, 2015

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  1. Gators and Glades… The National Park Series | Wandering through Time and Place
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