Every ecosystem has a leader and we all know who wears the crown in the Everglades. They’re big, they’re fast, they’re scary looking and they’re the king of the swamp! If you haven’t guessed who yet, it’s the American alligator. Surely no one in the water is picking a fight with these guys, and we’re exploring 4 reasons why below!
Their chomp is no joke - Alligators are some of the most interesting animals in the animal kingdom, even though we may be biased. Not many animals can say they don’t have any predators, and believe it or not, humans and other alligators are their biggest threats. The American alligator has one of the most powerful bites among all crocodile species in the United States. The bite strength of alligators far exceeds the power of bites produced by humans and most other animals. To put things in perspective, the bite of an alligator produces 16,460 newtons of bite pressure at a time, compared to humans who produce 890 newtons of bite force – and that’s only when they’re biting into meat. The power and pressure of an American alligator’s jaw is enough to kill their prey instantly. It’s safe to say they don’t just have all those teeth to show off that beautiful smile!
They’re speedy runners - Although it’s a common myth that alligators can’t catch you if you run zig-zag, they can still run pretty fast! In fact, they can probably catch a human even faster if they are running zig-zag because their blind spot is directly in front of their nose. Alligators aren’t looking to run after humans, though; they actually have a natural fear of humans. Typically, alligators tend to stay in or near the water, but if they spot something that looks tasty close to the water’s edge, they’ll put their running shoes on. Even with their muscular, heavy bodies, alligators are capable of short bursts of speed up to 30 miles per hour! Someone should warn the small mammals like muskrats and raccoons to stay far from the edge of the swamp.
They’re sneaky swimmers - American alligators have many athletic abilities but swimming is their strongest suit. They can swim up to 20 miles per hour and they’re very sneaky. Because a gator’s eyes are on the top of its head, they can swim under water while watching their prey and most likely be unseen. So, it makes sense why alligators prefer to hunt aquatic animals such as turtles and large fish... they can sneak up on them! In addition to being superb swimmers, gators can hold their breath for up to an hour at a time! So, some advice for the residents of the swamp… stay out of an alligator’s site!
They can jump and climb - They can swim, run and jump? It’s safe to say there isn’t an animal that can escape these big guys. Even from a state of rest, alligators can jump up to six feet into the air! An alligator’s jump isn’t just limited to jumping out of the water. They’ve been known to jump so they can get up to a tree branch faster and then climb to their prey. When hunting large animals, alligators usually have a bit of a disadvantage, being as they are so low to the ground. To make sure they have a chance of pulling a big animal like a deer down, the gator will jump aiming for the prey’s neck in hopes of the animal losing its balance and falling. Talk about determined!
So, if you want to see the king of the Everglades in action, there's plenty of places you can spot gators in Florida! March through May is one of the best times of the year, too!