American Alligator – (Alligator mississippiensis)
The American Alligator is Florida’s state reptile and inhabits fresh, brackish and saltwater environments. It can be seen in Floridas sub-tropical wetlands, swamps, marshes, ponds, lakes and rivers . The Alligator can grow in size from 6ft to 19 ft. Alligators feed on fish, mammals, birds, turtles, snakes and frogs. Alligators were over hunted in the 1800’s and 1990’s for their skins and soon became an endangered species. The Endangered Species Act and prohibition of illegal hunting of Alligators gave them a chance to recover in numbers and they made a comeback and are no longer an endangered species. It is still illegal to hunt them.
The two alligators pictures above were photographed on Sanibel and the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Naples. Alligators can also be dangerous to humans and should not be approached or fed. It is against state law to feed Alligators. Alligators are a common sight in Florida and can be seen in many places including parks and preserves, and residential neighborhood’s with lakes and canals. Florida is the only place where Alligators and Crocodiles live together. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has some additional facts and information about alligators.
click on pictures for larger image Photo by Dave Zuhusky