Florida Guide > Miscellaneous
The Florida Alligator.
When your mind wanders to thinking about Florida (and mine often does) what comes first to mind?
Sunshine, of course, Disney, natuarally. beaches, probably but I wouldn' t mind betting that the next thought to pop in your head is alligators.
The name ' alligator' comes from the Spanish word for lizard which is ligarto.
At one point the Florida alligator population was in fast decline. This was largely due to the fact that they were hunted for their flesh and skin. Old timers will tell you that they rarely saw one in their youth.
Nowadays, there seems to be a ' gator in every puddle! The current estimated population is around one million.
An adult alligator measures between 6 and 13 feet long (the longest ever recorded was over 17 feet)
They weigh in somewhere around the 1000 pound mark.
They are pretty much solitary creatures ( except for the mating season) and they are quite territorial. You find this out when you do one of the various boat tours and the guide points out ' George, who lives here and Fred who lives over there)
They eat pretty much anything that comes there way but contrary to popular opinion they are not that interested in humans.
During the whole of the last century they only killed 2 people. We have not fared so well this century and this is thought to be due to people feeding them.
If humans feed the alligators they lose their fear of them and this is dangerous. In Florida it is actually illegal to feed an alligator.
Nobody knows what an alligator' s life span is, but in captivity there are alligators who are more than 75 years old
A good place to get up close to ' gators is at Gatorworld and the best place to purchase tickets is http://www. orlandovillas. com/tickets. aspx
As an end note, you only find the ' gator in America and China. The Chinese alligator measures up to only half the length of it' s American cousin and has a better armoured body.
It is sad to note that their numbers are fast declining due to the loss of their natural habitat and also their habit of eating poisoned rats.
There are thought to be less than 200 ' gators left in the whole of China now.
Alligators have been around for 37 million years already; the future of the American ' gator is safe; who knows about their Chinese cousins?
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