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Hello, You Gorgeous Gator

Lots of people talk to animals…. Not very many listen, though…. That’s the problem. —Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything about alligators,  and I feel withdrawal coming on. So for my sake, here’s a gorgeous gator we encountered on a recent hike in the northern section of the Everglades.

{As always, please click on the image for expansion!}

Florida Everglades Alligator: Helllllo, gorgeous!

Here’s how one of these lovelies appears in the wild — in this case, full and slow after a meal, catching some sun. Which is why we ALWAYS have an eye on the water’s edge throughout our hikes — especially when water and bits of swamp suddenly pop up out of nowhere, *wink*!

While they are certainly admirable and fierce predators, there is absolutely no need to assume that they will eat your face if you encounter one in the wild. We’ve never been bothered by gators — even during mating and nesting seasons. If we see an active alligator mound (nest), we steer clear, knowing a momma gator is diligently protecting her eggs or young. The most disconcerting experiences I’ve ever had with these amazing creatures have occurred when I wasn’t watching the water’s edge as closely as I should have been, to put it mildly — or when we’ve startled or frightened them, causing uproarious splashes into the water amid the silence of the ‘glades.

Leave wildlife alone, because they want nothing more than to leave we humans alone….

Resting at the water’s edge — or, in my words during our hike: “Oops! Lookie there!”

Another view of the big lizard

50 Comments Post a comment
  1. Pam #

    What a beauty! One of my favorite animals!

    September 17, 2012
    • Love them! I’m so glad you started with “what a beauty…” My guy just wrote “gorgeous?!?!” OF COURSE.

      September 17, 2012
  2. They’re wonderful, indeed. Well, until a twelve-footer shows up in the median of your daily commute, trying to get across traffic! They were fat, happy and everywhere this year, apparently ecstatic to have the drought over. The parks and wildlife guys are awfully good about showing up and getting them back to a more appropriate neighborhood when that happens.

    We’ve just had our “Alligator Fest” for the year. There’s a twenty-day alligator season, and the festival plays off it. Like deer hunting, alligator hunting’s a good thing for the population – one part of responsible management. With regulation and limits, it helps to maintain a good balance. In Anahuac, where the festival’s held, they think about those things, since there are three gators for every person in town!

    September 17, 2012
    • Ah yes… We have our share of wayward gators. Well, they’re not really *wayward* — it’s we humans who have thrown them off course, in all honesty. They’re simply trying to get to where they gotta go. If it’s across a road, fab. With our gator population, management service is equally on-target. They gotta be, on the edge of the ‘glades.

      It’s ironic that just last century…Not that long ago…these creatures were very nearly entirely wiped out (shocking to even consider), and now we’re managing them. It’s good that area’s carefully controlling it. We still have our share of yahoos / illegal hunting, which of course is true everywhere one may travel.

      September 17, 2012
  3. That is a beautiful photo on top. It looks as if that gator is smiling at the camera.

    September 17, 2012
    • Thanks so much…! I love his (seeming) grin, too — I coo so much at them, I like to think they’re smiling for the camera. And his little leg coming up! (Although it really wasn’t so little…).

      September 17, 2012
  4. These are great photos! I of course continue to be fascinated by alligators and I found your writing about them here to be spot on! Many people automatically assume they are savage predators just waiting for an opportunity to attack the first thing that moves, which of course is not true. I also prefer to think of them as smiling rather then ‘looking mean’. 🙂
    Thanks for writing and posting this I enjoyed it very much.

    September 17, 2012
    • Yes, what Phil said. And so true of many predators. Beware, give them their space, but don’t vilify them because you assume they’ll attack.

      September 17, 2012
      • EXACTLY… Very well said, both statements. While they’re most definitely impressive predators, don’t stereotype these creatures for acts they simply don’t commit.

        September 17, 2012
    • MANY thanks! I’m so glad you enjoyed, and agree, especially having been around these guys. We’re around them weekly…daily…and definitely feel they’re stereotyped. Not to downplay their predator skills! They’re AMAZING creatures. But if people are smart, people will remain safe. Sadly, gators are hurt in our area by cruel idiots wanting to prove their feeble masculinity — by maiming them. So I’ll put in my two cents… Yeh, I’m a wee girl, and these big gators haven’t hurt me in my hundreds of hikes. 🙂

      September 17, 2012
      • Yes sadly this is true about people trying to hurt or kill animals like alligators.
        I know of alligators being found with large hooks embedded in them which was done by morons trying to capture and kill them.
        I honestly don’t feel the current crop of TV shows depicting guys going out after alligators does anyone (least of all the animals) a darn bit of good. I wish those shows would all disappear.
        (didn’t mean to get on a soap box here)

        Thanks very much for your recent visit to my blog and I would really love to see the photos of mom and baby alligators you mentioned. 🙂

        September 18, 2012
      • I COMPLETELY agree with you, WRT those shows. @#@(!. I made the mistake of visiting one, out of sheer curiosity. They were wrangling a JUVENILE, and acting as if it were a 15-footer. It was a BABY. Does the general population know this? No. Were they acting like idiots? Yes.

        I’ve witnessed too many maimed gators here — missing limbs, missing eyes — that’s why I try to reinforce the “leave the alone” bit. That’s all wildlife ultimately desires. There’s my soapbox. 🙂

        September 18, 2012
  5. marialla #

    Thank you for the pictures and the wise words of warning. All animals are cute as stuffed toy animals but it is quite advisable to remember that the real being is different kettle of fish (so to speak)!!! Love your lessons and always glad to see and read.

    September 17, 2012
    • Thanks so much! Wildlife is indeed just that…Wild life. Just doing what they do best, but ultimately wanting to avoid US, heh! Regardless, I’m always thrilled to encounter ’em. 🙂

      September 17, 2012
      • marialla #

        Same here – bit always with respect for who they are!!!

        September 18, 2012
  6. I couldn’t get a sense of how long the beautiful one is. Would you tell, please? The proportion of eye-size to head reminds me of cats–BIG EYES!

    September 17, 2012
    • Aren’t their eyes gorgeous? I love them!!

      There’s a trick for telling a gator’s size:

      – Estimate the distance in inches between the eyes and the tip of the snout
      – Change the measurement from inches to feet without changing the number (IE, a gator with 7 inches between its nose and snout is 7 feet long)
      – Divide the length by 2 to approximate the length of the tail, which roughly equals the length of the body and head together without the tail

      September 17, 2012
      • Quite a nice formula! But I don’t have a point of reference–don’t know how long the reed (?) spikes are nor the diameter of the lily pads. I know I’m missing something…. !!

        September 17, 2012
  7. Would you swim in water where gators live? I know that I used to swim in the bayou, and gators had been known to live there, but I’m not sure I would want to do that anymore. I think it was youthful ignorance. What say you, FeyGirl?

    September 17, 2012
    • DITTO. I’ve done it, but I think with age comes…errr…hesitance? Is that the right word? I call it cowardice, but someone else might say wisdom. People do it, but I wouldn’t now. Especially during mating season… There have been attacks, when the gators are more aggressive and territorial. I wouldn’t go in their turf.

      September 17, 2012
  8. saymber #

    When I lived in Florida in the 2001-2005 timeframe my ex and I would frequently see these gorgeous animals on our fishing trips! I will admit though, I like them best from a distance. I couldn’t help but notice the quote from the Tao of Pooh….one of my most precious books given to me by my Grandmother many moons ago!

    September 17, 2012
    • Ah, isn’t that book full of great quotes?

      We see these lovelies on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis, depending on where we go. Sometimes, VERY close-up, hahah!

      September 17, 2012
  9. I remember they were so still in the ‘Glades, they looked like logs until they moved. Magnificent creatures. Great photos.

    September 17, 2012
    • Sometimes, after a meal, they honestly look *dead*! So very still…

      Thanks so much!

      September 17, 2012
  10. After Mr personality and those little cute birds,, comes this ,, YOU really show us what is there in the open world,, and (He) is really gorgeous…. as YOUr photos.

    September 17, 2012
    • Ah, thanks so VERY much! I didn’t think of that, heh… The order of the critters, that’s funny. I’m glad you think he’s as handsome as I do! They’re such amazing predators, truly.

      September 17, 2012
      • handsome is everything belongs to mother nature. and yes they are amazing and YOU photographed (him) beautifully. first time i realized how much they are amazing and shiny,,, thanks to YOUr photos.

        September 17, 2012
  11. Gorgeous indeed. I saw a pretty eye too. Yet, i’d feel safe if i stayed away from them 😁

    September 17, 2012
    • Oh, most definitely… It’s wise to keep one’s distance! Even when they’re lazy and full. They can be QUICK! 🙂

      Isn’t that eye lovely? When they’re peeking out of the water, it’s quite a sight.

      September 18, 2012
      • It is cool to see them in the water with eyes peeking up. But what can be really amazing is to see them walking on land.
        They can appear quite prehistoric and are probably the closest thing we have to a living dinosaur. 🙂

        September 18, 2012
  12. He is really gorgeous!

    September 17, 2012
    • I’m so glad you think so, too! They’re such a normal sight on our hikes, that I can’t help but love them. Such amazing predators, besides.

      September 18, 2012
  13. Deb Platt #

    Amazing photos.

    September 17, 2012
    • Thanks so much! I have too many gator photos… But I love these guys. They’re a typical fixture on our hikes. 🙂

      September 18, 2012
      • They’re a typical fixture? ❗ Oh my…

        September 18, 2012
      • Hee… Oh for sure! If I DON’T see one, something’s wrong. 😉

        September 18, 2012
  14. Love the details in these shots! You got pretty close to them…

    September 18, 2012
    • Thanks so much! Yep, sometimes we unintentionally sneak up on these guys on our hikes… But I did have a telephoto. Perhaps a few feet away from this guy, before I realized he was there. Oooops!

      September 18, 2012
  15. I am sooooooo envious that you have alligators in your back yard!!!

    EC
    http://www.macrocritters.wordpress.com

    September 18, 2012
    • Heh…! They’re SUCH great fun to photograph!!

      September 18, 2012
  16. Awesome pictures and information! Thanks! When I visited Orlando with my kids a few years back, I assumed the gators were like Grizzly bears – ready to chomp us at the first chance! Now I feel more inclined to check out gator territory; actually, I already am to some degree, thanks to your blog! ( :

    September 19, 2012
    • How WONDERFUL! Such a great compliment. Believe me, I fully respect and admire these creatures for what they are: amazing predators. But they won’t go chasing you down for no reason, especially if you’re keen to their presence. They’re beautiful animals! And protective parents. 🙂

      September 20, 2012
  17. Great photos..yes we need to have some ethics when observing and photographing wildlife and I try to remember that always…I agree…Michelle

    September 19, 2012
    • Thanks so much… I do try to add a little something, but of course everyone who’s viewing these images fully respects and follows the same philosophy. It just tears me up to see otherwise when I’m out and about.

      September 20, 2012
  18. Hinterlandvillagebug #

    Such amazing pictures. Indeed extremely gorgeous these magnificent beasts.

    September 21, 2012
    • Thanks so much! These guys are amazing predators, but highly misunderstood. We’re always provided with such wonderful opportunities to photograph them in the wild, here… 🙂

      September 21, 2012
  19. Egads! That would frighten the daylights out of me!

    We saw several along the road near Kennedy Space Center when we played tourist several years ago. I told my husband if the car broke down I’d rather bake inside than get out and risk being dinner for those critters!

    September 21, 2012
    • Hahahah!!!

      Oh I promise, they wouldn’t bother you… If anything, they’d saunter away from you guys! (Well, the younger ones would probably spaz out and hit the water like you were after their mother.) They couldn’t care less — honestly, wanting nothing more than to be left alone. But they ARE magnificent predators, and certainly deserve to be respected as such… That’s for sure! 🙂

      September 21, 2012
      • I guess everything’s relative to what you’re used to! Out here in the Pacific Northwest bears, cougars and sea lions don’t phase us much 😉

        September 21, 2012
      • EXACTLY!!

        Now that…is terrifying to me. I used to live in Seattle, and I’ve done plenty of hiking out there — and was completely on edge the entire time, hahah!!! 🙂

        September 21, 2012

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