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A Survivor

Have compassion for everyone you meet, even if they don’t want it. What appears bad manners, an ill temper or cynicism is always a sign of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen. You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone. —Miller Williams

One special hike along the Rookery Trail (within the SWA Trail network of Grassy Waters Preserve) brought an unbelievable number of alligator sightings — I lost track at 30 in the space of 2-3 hours. By far the most of any hike! One of the guys we stumbled upon was this handsome fella.

Sunning Alligator in Grassy Waters Preserve, Florida

Sunning sweetheart

He’s not hissing, or being hostile — far from it, he was as mellow as could be. As with other cold-blooded reptiles, he was basking in the sun, regulating his body temperature. Occasionally alligators will keep their mouths open, akin to a dog panting…. It’s a cooling mechanism.

Sunning Alligator in Grassy Waters Preserve, Florida

Cooling down on a warm day

Out of 20-50 eggs that are laid by the mother alligator, only a few will survive to adulthood — usually less than five. Many predators prey upon the juvenile alligators, include snapping turtles, snakes, raccoons, bobcats, raptors, wading birds, and even larger alligators. This guy (or girl?) is a survivor, having encountered a mishap resulting in a missing foot as a hatchling or young adult — the injury appears long, and well-healed. And he/she was doing just fine, enjoying the beautiful land and wetlands of this magnificent preserved Everglades watershed.

Sunning Alligator in Grassy Waters Preserve, Florida

Relaxing in my wonderful Everglades

60 Comments Post a comment
  1. Many species are misunderstood. Some are killed because of fear. Reptiles are particularly vulnerable. People often fear my dogs who are friendly, furry and a non aggressive breed. I understand because it’s obvious that that fear comes from lack of knowledge. Unfortunate for both the human and the animal.

    February 20, 2013
    • VERY true…. This is why I often highlight our wonderful alligators, which were nearly wiped out — not that long ago — for pure human vanity.

      These guys want nothing more, like most wildlife, than to be left alone. And what’s perceived as “frightening” is nothing more than a biological mechanism (here, cooling down)! With education comes knowledge…. Hopefully dispersing the fear. Thanks so very much for your wonderful comment.

      February 20, 2013
  2. I love the quote at the top, and I do try and live my life with this sort of mantra in mind 🙂

    February 20, 2013
    • Isn’t it wonderful? SUCH a great reminder…. Always!! 🙂

      February 20, 2013
      • Thank you for sharing x

        February 20, 2013
  3. I just love that quote. It is so true.

    February 20, 2013
    • It truly is… Such a wonderful reminder as we plod through our days, and life in general. 🙂

      February 20, 2013
  4. jimbey #

    …. Gators are truly victims of humans’ imagination. One look at that scaly hide, huge jaws and awesome teeth tells us the gator is a vicious killing monster. Truth is, the gator is a ruthless, unapologetic sleeping freak – and a big ole swamp pussy cat. They only feed once every week or two; and when they aren’t sleeping, they often work at making habitat (gator holes) that are so important for the survival of other swamp critters during the dry season.
    …. The SWA Rookery Trail, on the other hand, is enormously dangerous! Once bitten by the Rookery, the hapless traveler is doomed to return over and over and over again. Kinda like Hotel California. Wakodahatchee, without the crowds and the boardwalks.

    February 20, 2013
    • VERY well said…. And so poetic!! To think we nearly wiped them out, for human vanity — ah well. They’re doing well now. 🙂

      I already miss the trail and all these guys — and there’s a LONG way to go till we see them again, sigh!

      February 20, 2013
      • jimbey #

        …. for your followers: The SWA Rookery Trail is closed from Feb 1 to Sept 30 every year. It is a major nesting area for the endangered Wood Stork … and I do mean “major”. We managed to take a trip out there just before the trail closed, and also -er- managed to accidently hop a locked gate to an observation platform overlooking the rookery. HUNDREDS of wood storks busy finishing up their nests and settling in. Awe inspiring, but very anxious. The last 5 years in a row, the wood stork nesting in the Everglades and The Rookery were abject failures.
        …. But I digress. I’ll also miss the gators there – some return to the same spot on the same bank every year. Those guys, we know by name 🙂

        February 20, 2013
      • GREAT addition… I have a great little article on the return of the wood stork, too — gotta dig it up!

        Pshaw. Locked gate! PSHAW!

        I hope all these guys can be visited in other parts of the trails / SWA / GWP. I’ll miss ’em. 😦

        February 20, 2013
      • jimbey #

        …. You can still visit with the wood storks. Take the (paved) road to the Rookery Trail Head – the storks are still actively feeding in the pond there. Hey, even parents need to eat! 😀

        February 20, 2013
  5. It’s good to see that gators are making a comeback after decades of being turned into shoes, handbags, and luggage.

    February 20, 2013
    • SO very true…. It’s unfathomable that they were nearly wiped completely out, one of the oldest species, for the sake of human vanity. Thank goodness they’re now thriving. 🙂

      February 20, 2013
  6. What a great saying from Miller Williams. It speaks of tolerance and being gracious in the face of adversity or seemingly ill will. Your images show great framing and your narrative is excellent. I’m so glad i’m not the only one who likes gators.

    February 20, 2013
    • Thanks so very much!! It was such a wonderful opportunity…. And equally so, to highlight such amazing creatures. You’re DEFINITELY not alone — I adore these guys!

      I just popped on your site, and I see you’ve been posting! Argh! I haven’t been receiving notifications of new posts from you….! Perhaps I should sign up again.

      February 20, 2013
  7. Splendid images of some of Florida’s “true natives”! I can’t get enough ‘gator photos because I can’t get enough of being out there where they live!

    February 20, 2013
    • The truest natives! 🙂 And so very true…. I can take pictures of these guys all day. If I don’t see one on a hike, I’m a bit sad, I think! This guy / girl was special though. 🙂

      February 20, 2013
  8. Well done, alligator friend! I have a bearded dragon who will also open his mouth to regulate temperature. Many people are afraid of him… which is silly. He’s not acting in a hostile manner, or attacking you. He’s sitting there quietly, basking in the sunlight.

    February 20, 2013
    • Heh heh! That’s wonderful!! I love it… And I love all your doggies — I just popped on your page and was admiring them!

      I’m so sorry this is *incredibly*…late… I’ve been seriously down-and-out with this poor blog, AND your comment was spammed! So please accept my apologies. 🙂

      January 22, 2014
  9. Great catch! It looks like he’s laughing.

    February 20, 2013
    • Ah, thanks so much! He / she’s a special one… Obviously been through a bunch in this short life (not a big guy / girl). Lost foot, lost teeth — but still surviving and thriving! 🙂

      February 20, 2013
  10. Sweetheart sunning got to me, but I still wouldn’t want to share the beach with him! 🙂

    February 20, 2013
    • Hah, thanks! Aw, they wouldn’t bother you… They’d be more scared of you, BELIEVE me! You should hear the cacophony as they splash into the waters, trying to escape me as I hike. 🙂 Now however, during mating season, is another story… I’m a wee bit more cautious.

      February 21, 2013
  11. I’m glad that gators have rebounded. We don’t have them this far north or course, but I know I would get along with them just fine!

    February 20, 2013
    • You would love them!

      Just like with all wildlife, they want to be left to their own devices. People have demonized these guys, but they’re quite mellow. Not right now — it’s getting into mating season — but I can’t blame them for being a bit antsy. 🙂

      February 21, 2013
  12. What magnificent captures! Looks like the alligator is smiling.

    February 20, 2013
    • Thanks so much! He/she really does… Just hanging out, cooling down by the water’s edge. Such a sweetheart!

      February 21, 2013
  13. You always find such wonderful quotes! And, the photos, too, are great. I once saw a crocodile in tropical Mexico, perched on a log with his/her mouth wide open (wider than the alligators in your pix). Amazingly, sitting at the end of the log, just barely a few inches beyond the jaws, sat a turtle, with his/her neck stretched long, and curved way to the side, as if to try to get the head as far away as possible. Neither creature moved a muscle, and they stayed that way until we had to leave. Later, when we returned, there was no sign of either animal. I’ve always wondered who won that standoff.

    I have a photo, somewhere of this little drama…
    Nature is nature.

    February 21, 2013
    • Ah, so great!! I wonder if there was a meal involved… Or the croc was just resting, post-meal!

      Funny you mention this; I just took a shot of a juvenile gator and a turtle, side-by-side. Right now they’re the same size, and the turtle’s safe… And quite friendly! But soon enough? Ergh!

      February 21, 2013
  14. marialla #

    AND WHAT WERE THE TWO OF YOU SPEAKING ABOUT!!!???

    February 21, 2013
    • Hahahah! In which conversation….? 🙂

      February 21, 2013
      • marialla #

        Oi, oi, oi so secretive!!! That’s ok – even aligator’s like thier conversations to be private , even if they are photoed while talking. I think she was telling you some privat joke!!!

        February 22, 2013
      • Oh, hahahahha! 🙂 I get it. She was a sweetheart…. Doesn’t she look like she’s smiling? Although I do believe she was a wee bit perturbed at my presence, so I quickly left…

        February 22, 2013
      • marialla #

        Who knows?? Maybe no!!

        February 25, 2013
  15. Most people don’t get it when I take a stick and encourage a rattlesnake to go elsewhere in a campground. (Otherwise I just leave them alone or have a discussion on how fine their rattles are.) Actually, of all the poisonous snakes, I like rattlers the best. Talk about a warning system! BTW… I haven’t been getting your posts like you noted on carribeandiversity.

    February 21, 2013
    • Hahahah!! LOVE it…. 🙂

      Thanks so much for making me aware of this WP glitch… ARGH! GR! How frustrating.

      February 22, 2013
      • I was wondering where you had gone… until I came across you on Gmail.

        February 22, 2013
      • So you *are* still getting email notifications? I just put in a forum help request on this topic, after you mentioned it… Maybe they resolved it?

        February 22, 2013
      • I’ll check again, but I didn’t see latest blog on Reader that I was notified about on Email.

        February 22, 2013
      • Ah, ok…. Someone else just confirmed this as well. Thank you so very much again for alerting me! Appears as though I may have to harass WP – no response from ’em.

        February 24, 2013
      • Double checked. Nothing FeyGirl.

        February 22, 2013
      • GRR!

        Thank you SO very much for letting me know – I really appreciate it!

        February 24, 2013
  16. I’ve developed a new appreciation for gators due to the rescuers “Gator Boys.” I never thought I’d see a gator as sweet! ❤

    February 22, 2013
    • Ah, I didn’t know they were *rescuers*! I have to catch their show, now!!! 🙂 I caught one…gator wranglers…and I was traumatized. It wasn’t these guys, obviously!

      S/he’s a real survivor sweetheart, I know…. I wanted to stay but I was bothering her, so had to skedaddle.

      February 22, 2013
  17. Great post Fey Girl! It’s great to read understanding and objectivity about such magnificent and important animals. Us humans need to realise that we need the whole food chain in place and that we’re not the only apex predator!

    February 23, 2013
    • Thanks so much… And VERY well said. Alligators play such a CRUCIAL part in the Everglades ecosystem — so very complex. We need them, the world needs them. To demonize such mellow animals is simply absurd — they want nothing more than to be left alone. Which I’m happy to do now, as we approach mating season. 🙂

      February 24, 2013
      • You’re dead right, I wish people would wise up and just leave them alone and appreciate what amazing creatures they are from afar.

        I think I’d give them a wide berth in the mating season too Getting stuck between a male alligator and his lady when he’s feeling fruity is a pretty scary notion!

        February 25, 2013
      • Honestly… So very true. There are those with such big egos — or smaller parts — that have some serious bully issues, though. I’ve seen it first-hand — mutilating gators because they CAN. It’s appalling.

        But for the rest of us, who appreciate them on a normal basis? You’re right. You don’t wanna get anywhere near ’em during courting time! 🙂

        February 25, 2013
  18. I was listening to the Outdoor Show early this morning, and the sightings of alligators on Houston roads are starting to come in. They usually appear along the sides of freeways – it’s always startling to people, and actually quite amazing that more don’t get hit. I think it’s the alligator’s instinct to stop and do a little reconnaisance that saves them. They get spotted, someone calls the wildlife folks, and they truck out to help the poor creatures get to where they’re going.

    That open-mouth business is interesting. I didn’t realize until a couple of years ago that birds do the same thing. In the height of summer, I saw all of the mallards sitting around in the shade with their beaks open. Five minutes with google, and voila! Mystery solved!

    February 23, 2013
    • Hah!! I did the same awhile back, when I saw the birds doing the open-mouth thing…! Poor birds. They have a tough time with the heat. Birdbaths, everyone! Birdbaths!

      So wonderful that your gators have the wildlife people (and helpful citizens!) helping them, at least! Our roads are just horrible for these guys… But you’re right. It IS surprising that we don’t (because I don’t, either) see more meet gruesome deaths due to cars. Thank goodness.

      February 24, 2013
  19. These are fabulous captures, and I’m still amazed walking by these monsters you’re not afraid. BTW, for some reason I haven’t seen your posts in my reader feed. So I’m not ignoring you! Hope all is going well with you.

    February 24, 2013
    • Aw, thanks so much! Actually, the last time I was out…. They were getting antsy! It’s getting close to mating season, so their eyes were following my every movement. EEKS! Needless to say, I kept my distance. I KNOW THE SEASON! 🙂

      MAN, thanks for that info… Another kind blogger just made me aware of this, as well. I let WP know, and NO answer. Guess I’ll have to harass, hee. 🙂 Doing decently — hope you’re doing well! Healthy?

      February 24, 2013
      • YES ! Finally !! Been having fun with an easier schedule. BTW, the bird thing in Jax got complicated cuz of hubby. He has to be in Orlando on the 18th. Perhaps next year?

        February 24, 2013
      • Ah, no worries! I was of COURSE looking forward to it, but schedules happen. 🙂 And the birds will be there!!

        February 24, 2013
      • Me too ! I’ll be in FLA that week, but hubby has no patience for hanging around while I play.

        February 24, 2013
      • Hee, that seems to be a theme with many I know… 🙂

        February 24, 2013
  20. We have to protect ALL of Mother Natures’ creatures! Just because they aren’t furry doesn’t mean they don’t need us to care for them.

    Love blog. Now Following!

    -Daisy
    http://discoveringwithdaisy.wordpress.com

    February 25, 2013
    • SO true!!

      Thanks so much for the follow… Can’t wait to check ya out! 🙂

      February 25, 2013

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