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Debunking 6 Alligator Myths from our Gator Park!

Ending up face-to-face with an alligator in Florida is not super likely, but it could happen. With over a million gators calling Florida their home, sometimes there’s just no way around it. Here at Wild Florida, we LOVE alligators and have 125 at our Gator Park alone. Many Floridians may know the “tips and tricks” when it comes to what to do when you find yourself in harm’s way, but the same can’t always be said for tourists who visit Central Florida.

We love getting up close to alligators! That's why at our Gator Park, it’s important to us to educate our fans and guests. We’ve decided to debunk a few myths you may have heard over the years… with hopes they’ll come in handy the next time you are in close proximity to a giant-sized Fluffy.

Myth 1: Alligators can't catch you if you run zig-zag

Contrary to popular belief, alligators don't chase and hunt humans. They'd actually rather swim away or avoid any confrontation altogether. However, if you happen to stumble upon an alligator, remember this: run in a straight line. They have a blindspot right in front of their nose, and gators are capable of catching people or animals running in a zig-zag pattern, and they're pretty quick, too. Don’t worry about our Wild Florida Airboats or our Gator Park; you won’t have to worry about running away from these amazing creatures. 

An adult gator swims in a pool at the Wild Florida's Gator Park

Myth 2: Alligators are good pets

Owning a pet alligator may seem like a cool idea; however, alligators make terrible pets. Unlike those cuddly cats and lovable dogs, these scaly friends don't exactly shower you with affection. They have their own way of showing love, which doesn't involve cozy lap snuggles. Owning an alligator as a pet, you could end up with a massive six-foot or even a whopping 13-foot gator in your tub or pool! Imagine the looks you'd get when your friends come over for a summer swim.

Myth 3: Alligators have poor eyesight

Despite what you may think, alligators actually have very good eyesight. Their eyes are strategically positioned on the side of their head, giving them a wide range of sight. What makes their eyes even more impressive is the presence of a layer of cells called the tapetum lucidum, nestled beneath their photoreceptor cells. This layer, often referred to as "eye-shine," allows the retina to reflect light back into these cells, thereby enhancing their ability to perceive light in low-light conditions. You can see this in action during a Wild Florida night airboat tour! 

Close up of an alligators eyes at Wild Florida

Myth 4: Alligators aren't good climbers

Alligators can sometimes be found in unusual places, and that’s because they are scaly, muscle machines! With their sharp claws and powerful tails, gators are able to help push their bodies up onto fences. Young alligators are typically more agile climbers, but adults have been known to climb fences to get to water or away from humans. 

Myth 5: Alligators have no enemy

With male alligators growing up to 13 feet, it may seem that they are at the top of the food chain in the Everglades. However, that is not the case. Humans are actually an alligator's number one "predator" (along with other gators themselves). With their natural habitat slowly diminishing with the rise of development, gators find themselves in unfamiliar territories where they may be hunted by other gators or get caught in man-made constructions. 

An alligator gets ready to eat at Wild Florida's Gator Park

Myth 6: Alligators are unable to regulate their temperatures naturally

Alligators share a common trait with other reptiles, like snakes and turtles, where they rely on external sources to regulate their body temperature. During Florida’s colder months between November and March, you can find gators basking in the sun or moving to warmer water, especially at our Wild Florida Gator Park or on an airboat tour. Because they are cold-blooded, alligators are more active in warmer weather, especially when the temperature is around 82 to 92 degrees. However, they enter a dormant state when the temperature drops below 55 degrees. 

See anything we missed, or are you just excited to get up close to a gator yourself? Visit our gator pond at our Gator Park, or ride an airboat in the headwaters of the Florida Everglades to have our in-house experts debunk some of your gator myths.

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