Little Gators

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Alligator eggs usually hatch late August/early September.  As much as I searched this past winter, it wasn’t until mid-March that I finally found any juvenile alligators.

These in this post were found in the front area at the Fakahatchee Strand Big Bend Boardwalk.  Vulnerable and always in hiding from predators, the warm temps were bringing the little ones out to sunbathe.

But before anyone starts ga-ga-ing over them and taking photos, they need to know where Mama is.  She is a ferocious protector of her offspring.

Ahhhh…..I found her, in the front pond, mid-day sunbathing.

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“Mama”

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Across from the pond is a canal that leads deep into the strand that the boardwalk follows.  It was at the canal’s beginning near the parking lot that I spotted and counted 13 juvenile alligators, ranging in two age groups, approximately one foot (30 cm) and 2.5 feet (30 to 76 cm) long.

Interestingly, juvenile alligators stay under their Mama’s protection for the first two years of their life as they learn to survive.

At hatching, these reptiles are 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) long.

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Young alligator, approx. six months old and one foot (30 cm) long
(I left the leaf in the photo for comparison)

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Close-up of a six-month old (one foot long) alligator

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Big bro or sis was sunning on the embankment, babysitting for Mama. 😉  Or testing its bravery.

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Young alligator approx. 18 months old and 2.5 feet (76 cm) long

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Close-up of 18 month old alligator

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Some of the ‘babies’ were looking to buddy up with another big bro or sis.

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Six month olds climbing on 18 month old to sunbathe

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Right after that shot above, little gator #3 was trying to climb on #2, knocking them both into the water.  But that little gator #1 hung on tight!

And now for a couple of endearing shots of the two left.  At least I thought so! 😊

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Remember, one foot long on top of 2.5 feet long.

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Cute!  Yea…..until they get 5 to 10 to 15 feet long!  😳

Meanwhile….while looking at these, were you paying attention on the whereabouts of someone not to be forgotten?

No worries!  I was for all of us!  😊

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Mama’s intimidating eye gives a clear message which I took seriously

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Interesting fact:  An adult alligator has roughly 80 teeth in its mouth at one time.  As the teeth wear down, they are replaced with new teeth.  An average alligator can go through 2,000 to 3,000 teeth in a lifetime.

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50 thoughts on “Little Gators

  1. Interesting facts Donna about one of the earth’s oldest living animals. It looks like the little ones have light stripes, maybe camouflage, unlike the mother. A really nice series that makes one happy and believes in the survival of the species, even though we humans act in the wrong direction.

    • Thank you, Hans! Yes, the little ones get stripes specifically for camouflage purposes. At that vulnerable size, their predators include raccoons, otters, wading birds, and fish; however, larger alligators may be their most significant predator. It is truly amazing to see these creatures walk freely in the wild, still here after all these years.

  2. Great photos Donna. I particularly liked the one where they are climbing all over each other. I guess when they get longer than 2.5 ft long nobody dares to go near them, so they are quite safe!

    • Thank you, Mike! Oh, I wish the 2nd and 3rd little gator had made it to the top of the pile, it would have truly been an awesome photo. 🙂 The 2.5 footer on the embankment was eyeing me, but then quickly jumped into the water. Still I agree, big enough to keep me at a distance!!

    • Thank you, Barbara! If a little one gets misplaced, another Mama will take over watching it as well. They actually call an area filled with juveniles an alligator nursery. 🙂

  3. What a fascinating post. I loved all the photos, but especially the ‘stack’ of young ones. I wish all my ‘old’ teeth were replaced with new ones. I could have saved thousands of dollars in dental bills – crowns, implants, root canals etc. Ha!

  4. Great set of images, Donna, especially the “stacks” and good job watching for mama.

    Hatching around here seems to go on all year long, not sure why. We’ve recently seen two sets of very young ones.

    • Thank you, Ellen! They had me laughing, trying to pile on, lol. I did notice in this group of 13 that a few small ones were still maybe 3-4″ different from some others. I wondered if their 6-8″ length at hatching made a difference enough to show bigger differences as they rapidly grow. One was small enough, I figured he was a runt, lol. Still cute!

      • Interesting thoughts about their sizes, and it never occurred to me reptiles might have a runt! They sure are cute at this size, and I love to hear that little noise they make.

  5. Your photos are terrific, very sharp and well composed. These are to grow up to be killers, but they look to be adorable. Just be alert at all times. Great work, Donna. 🙂

  6. I really enjoyed your post about our state’s lovely lizards! The accompanying superb photographs highlight how beautiful these reptiles are, no matter their age.

    Very nice!

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