Did you know that the Everglades is the only ecosystem in the world where alligators and crocodiles co-exist side by side? Although alligators only thrive in fresh water because they can't digest salt, crocodiles can live in both fresh and salt water. The Everglades is unique because fresh water in the Florida Bay meets the salt water of the Gulf of Mexico!
Other interesting facts about gators include:
- There are over 200,000 alligators in the Everglades and 1.5 million in the state of Florida!
- Alligators live in the coastal plains of the southeastern United States and Central American both natural and man-made freshwater lakes, ponds, rivers, and wetland areas.
- Alligators do not eat human beings! However, they will protect and defend themselves, attacking and killing humans if they get too close or endanger their young.
- Alligators are territorial and frequently get into fights defending their space. As a result, you'll often see alligators scarred on their head and body or with a missing body part such as a tail, leg or eye.
- Alligators are also solitary reptiles. You'll only see them in large groups during mating season, in the spring. Usually 30-40 eggs incubate for approximately 60-65 days and hatchlings are usually 8-10 inches long.
- Alligators have 68 percent muscle and the male alligator can grow up to 12 feet and weigh 400-500 pounds while the female alligator usually grows to 8-9 feet.
- Alligator jaws have over 1,000 pounds of closing pressure! Yikes!
- Alligators have approximately 80 teeth. When they wear down or are lost in battle, they are replaced with new teeth. An alligator can go through 2,000 to 3,000 teeth in a lifetime!
- A lifetime for an alligator is approximately 30-35 years in the wild and they can live past 50 years in captivity.
- Alligators' main diet consists primarily of fish but they also feed on turtles, mammals, snakes and birds.
- Often you'll see only the gator's head in the water, not its body. This way they can more easily strike their prey, such as fish, without being detected.
- Alligators regulate their temperatures, not by perspiring, but by moving out of the sun and into the shade. There they rest with their mouths open to release stored heat. They also cool off by going to the water.
- Because of legal protection, alligators are no longer endangered. They are, however, still classified as threatened to insure their continued protection and that of the endangered American crocodile.
- The alligator is the mascot of the University of Florida at Gainesville. Go Gators!