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Our Gator Park Insights: 5 Fascinating Facts About Florida's Alligators

Alligators might not be the most affectionate or cuddly, but they are one of the most fascinating and, dare we say, coolest animals on the planet. Their powerful jaws and unique aquatic skills make them a captivating sight for tourists and locals alike. And while a Florida Everglades airboat tour is a fantastic way to see alligators, it's not your only option at Wild Florida. Our Gator Pond, at our Gator Park in Florida, is home to over 100 rescued and native alligators. 

As you journey through our Gator Park, you'll find our Croc Squad, who can tell you all about these remarkable creatures. In our blog, we've put together five unexpected facts about alligators that our visitors find the most surprising.

Crocodiles sun bathe by the water at Wild Florida's Gator Park

1. They are opportunistic hunters.

Alligators are opportunistic predators. They typically hunt for species that are easily accessible and more likely to be seen in the wild. Unlike many other predatory animals, such as lions or wolves, alligators do not actively seek out their next meal. Instead, they wait patiently for the right opportunity to present itself. In their natural habitat, such as the headwaters of the Florida Everglades, alligators feed on fish, snakes, turtles, and other small mammals. However, if a larger prey, like a cow, comes their way, they won't hesitate to take advantage of the opportunity.

2. The temperature of their nest determines an alligator's gender during incubation.

Female alligators in Florida lay between 35 and 90 eggs from late June to early July. They cover the eggs with vegetation to keep them warm, and the eggs take about 65 days to hatch. Interestingly, the gender of the alligator depends on the temperature of the nest. The alligator will be male if the temperature is above 93 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature is below 86 degrees Fahrenheit, it will be female. And if the temperature is between 86 and 93 degrees Fahrenheit, both genders are possible!

An adult crocodile can be seen at Wild Florida

3. Alligators are very different from crocodiles.

Alligators are found in the southeastern United States and eastern China. Crocodiles mainly settle in Africa, Australia, southeastern Asia, North America, South America, and Central America. However, South Florida is the only place on earth where alligators and crocodiles coexist. One of the ways to differentiate between the two species is by looking at their snouts. An alligator's snout is broad and U-shaped, whereas a crocodile's snout is narrow and V-shaped. Alligators are also darker and blackish-grey, whereas crocodiles are lighter, olive green, or brown.

4. Run straight away from an alligator, not zigzag.

Many believe running in a zigzag pattern can help you escape an alligator. However, this is a myth. Alligators bite by swinging their mouth to the left or right, as they are almost blind when an object is straight in front of their nose. Running in a zigzag pattern might make it easier for them to spot you.

A gator prepares for a feeding at Wild Florida

5. An alligator's bite is one of the strongest in the animal kingdom.

Did you know that an alligator's jaws are incredibly powerful? Greg Erickson, a biology professor at Florida State University, researched the strength of an alligator's bite. He found that it is one of the strongest in the animal kingdom. According to Erickson, if you were trapped in an alligator's jaws and tried to escape, it would be like attempting to lift a pickup truck up yourself! In fact, American alligators have the third strongest bite force of any animal, with only the Salt Water and Nile crocodiles having a stronger bite. Pretty impressive, don't you think?

At Wild Florida, you can see alligators in the wild at our Gator Park or airboat tour. One thing to keep in mind is your airboat ride includes admission to our Gator Park! So the gator fun doesn't have to stop. But on your way out, make a pit stop at our Drive-thru Safari Park to see even more animals up close and personal like never before. It would be a day full of wild adventure! 

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