Driving down the Florida Keys we travelled on a narrow strip of highway through a mangrove swamp. Since it was a hot day there were alligators all around out sunning themselves. My friend Sue asked, “would it be an exaggeration to say we saw hundreds of alligators? ” I assured her it wouldn’t be an exaggeration at all. We stopped several times to get out of the car and look at the alligators. Some of the alligators were swimming, no doubt looking for the turtles, fish, muskrats, birds and snails which are part of their diet. Although alligators aren’t known to attack humans unless they feel threatened this fisherman was keeping his distance. “They can move pretty fast,” he said. A sign warned us to stay at least fifteen feet away from alligators. There are more than a million alligators in Florida which is pretty amazing because in the 1950s and ’60s they had been hunted almost to extinction. At a nature centre where we stopped to go on a boardwalk stroll there was a crocodile skull on display and we learned Florida is also home to some 1000 crocodiles. Crocodiles have more pointed snouts- and alligators a more U-shaped one. Crocodiles are more aggressive and are a lighter colour. Crocodiles live in seawater and alligators in freshwater. The Florida Everglades is the only place where crocodiles and alligators live side by side.
It was interesting to learn that the only other alligator habitat in the world besides the southeastern United States is in China, a country where I lived for six years.
Other posts about interesting creatures……..