Where to see alligators in Sarasota Florida

Alligators and crocodiles in Florida

You are the most famous animals of the Sunshine State - alligators and crocodiles that inhabit Florida's wetlands, sometimes swimming pools and golf courses. Nowhere else in the US do you have such a good chance of spotting prehistoric reptiles - be it in Gator Parks, Zoos or in the the wild. But what are the best ways to see the animals? How do you differentiate between alligators and crocodiles? And what should you keep in mind when dealing with them? We'll tell you in this article.

Alligators in the profile

Do you want to find out about the lizards before heading to the zoo or taking an airboat tour in Florida? Then you will find in our Alligators Wanted Poster all important information:

There are eight in total species of alligators, which are divided into the so-called real alligators and caimans. The Mississippi alligator is native to Florida. There are also alligators in China, but they are much smaller than their relatives in the New World. The six known caiman species all live in South and Central America.

Alligators size and weight

On average, Mississippi alligators reach one size of 3 m and a Weight from 230 kg. However, the largest specimen ever shot weighed 450 kg - with a length of 4.8 m.

To the habitat Alligators include standing and flowing freshwater bodies of water: such as rivers, swamps and lakes. Due to the increasing population of Florida, alligators also get lost on golf courses and in swimming pools. Alligators in sewers, on the other hand, are a myth that has never been confirmed. In the long run it would be too dark and cold for the animals in the sewer pipes.

Alligators food and way of life

Alligators are true omnivores: theirs food include fish and small mammals, but also turtles and birds. The lizards may seem rather sedate on land. In the water, however, alligators reach a speed of 32 km / h. At the same time, they swim almost silently and even perceive tiny vibrations in the water.

Alligators tend to be solitary Way of life. However, it does happen that smaller alligators band together to hunt. The animals also share sunny spots where they warm up.

Alligators babies and young animals

Believe it or not because of their formidable looks, female alligators are caring mothers. The animals lay up to 70 eggs on embankments and guard their nests jealously from predators. Alligator babies measure about 20 cm. After the birth, the Young animals several weeks under the care of Mama Alligator.

Did you know: “With alligators, whether it will be a boy or a girl depends on the temperature: If the nest is more than 31 ° C, a male alligator hatches; a female at temperatures below that. "

Though people not on the menu of the lizards and both crocodiles and alligators prefer to stay away from the bipeds - the Population explosion in Florida has meant that encounters between humans and animals are inevitable. Accidents are rare - statistically speaking, it is more likely to be killed by a cow than by an alligator or crocodile; Nevertheless, tragic incidents occur again and again.

Here are a few Safety precautions for handling alligators, which also apply to the rarer crocodiles:

  • Only swim in designated areas and only in daylight.
  • Don't walk too close to river banks. Especially brooding females react aggressively to intruders.
  • Take yours dog When walking along the river bank on a leash so that it does not startle an alligator.
  • If an alligator is chasing you run away. The animals are fast for short distances, but cannot keep up the pace for long.
  • Should the Worst case Enter and the alligator bite: Defend yourself with all means and aim for the snout and eyes.
  • Even if you bite a small alligator, you have to be due deadly risk of infection consult a doctor immediately.
  • If you see an alligator on the street, keep your distance and call them police or the Alligator hotline (866-392-4286). Feeding or harassing the animals is strictly forbidden.

Florida Alligator Watch - Best Places

Fans of the primeval lizards are guaranteed to be happy in the Sunshine State: If you Watch alligators in Florida you have a wealth of places to choose from:

Alligators in zoos and aquariums

If you want to get as many alligators in front of the camera as possible and are looking for an educational program for the whole family, you should visit the following places. There you can find Florida's alligators in Zoos and aquariums see:

This theme park near Orlando has been in operation since 1950. The park advertises with the slogan "Gator Capital of the World" - and indeed: 2,000 alligators and crocodiles live there, including 2 extremely rare albino specimens. In the protected Baby Gator Marsh you can have sweet Baby alligators admire. But the park is not only home to American species. Nile crocodiles and Caribbean representatives are also in Gatorland At home. Isn't it enough for you to see the animals from the ground? Then you can zip over the crocodile enclosure on the zip line.

A top address for alligator fans is GatorWorld Parks near Orlando. Here you drive past specially created lakes with up to 400 animals frolic. Particular celebrity enjoys "Big Al“, A 4 meter giant with which you can also be photographed. Less scary are the baby alligators that you can fool yourself. The older ones Young animals live in a special enclosure and scramble over the pieces of meat that visitors give them.

St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park

in the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park an entire area is dedicated to reptiles, the "Land of Crocodiles". Not just rare Albino alligators you get to see there. Even their smaller relatives from China as well Nile crocodiles and Ghariale with a strikingly thin mouth call this area their home. You will also marvel at the 5-meter-long Gomek - albeit in a stuffed form. The 4 meter colossus, on the other hand, is very lively Maximo, a saltwater crocodile that can be observed underwater thanks to the glass pane. At the Crocodile Crossing, a parkour with zip line in the treetops, you look at the crocodiles below you - how good that you are secured.

Visitors to the can get up close and personal with wild animals Alligator Attraction in Madeira Beach - made for Families with children. Here the little ones can not only see alligators with fishing rods feed, but even hold the reptiles in your arms and give them one kiss give. Okay, the young alligator might want to snap shut, but luckily its mouth is taped shut.

Smugglers Cove Adventure Golf

Another ideal destination for Familys represents Smugglers Cove Adventure Golf in Fort Myers Beach. Anyone who can't get between Mini golf and alligators can decide is right here. In the middle of the golf course there is a lake with 20-30 Young animals. There you can feed the alligators with a bamboo fishing rod when you have finished playing the 18 holes.

Everglades Alligator Farm

Because hunting the wild specimens is prohibited, alligators are used in Florida bredto get their flesh and leather. It should be 45,000 animals in total. Alone 2,000 alligators live on the Everglades Alligator Farm in Homestead. There you can watch the hungry lizards eat and also get show performances. Alligator wrestling is the name of the thrill in which the trainers perform seemingly life-threatening stunts with the animals - for example sticking their head into the beast's throat. In the end, however, it is the alligator that is eaten. The fried gator bites with hot sauce are very popular in southern cuisine.

More places to see alligators

Other places that house alligators include:

Alligators in the wild

If you're in Florida alligators in the wild you should try your luck in the following places:

Florida's "river of grass" provides that most productive area to observe the reptiles in the wild. Plus, the Everglades are the only place in the world where you Alligators and crocodiles in the same habitat see. The possibilities are diverse:

So you can see the Everglades on one Hike explore, for example on the Tamiami Trail in Shark Valley or the short Anhinga Trail, which is perfect for beginners. Alligator sightings are on the shore almost guaranteed, because the lizards like to doze off in the sun. And you can catch a glimpse of alligators on the hiking trails that start at the National Park entrance in Homestead. Or you don't kayak to water, e.g. B. on the Nine Mile Pond, and watch the animals in the brackish water. There is still said to be a 4.5 meter long crocodile, which the locals "Croczilla" is called. On the ever popular Airboat tours Gators are the main attraction. A photo with a (harmless) baby alligator should not be missing.

Oasis Visitor Center in the Big Cypress Preserve

Round 1500 alligators cavort in this nature reserve north of the Everglades National Park. Some of these can already be seen from the parking lot. One is even more productive Hike on the circular routes that only 5 minutes and starts at the Oasis Visitor Center. From wooden jetties you can watch the reptiles in the water and on the shore. If you are lucky, you will also see alligators catching prey. Alternatively, you can drive through the sparsely populated area by car or see the lizards at Kayaking catch sight of.

This alligator retreat is located in Sarasota County. A particularly large number of specimens cavort in the "Deep hole“Well-known Water hole, which you can reach on a 6.5-kilometer circular route. Only 30 visitors are allowed to Myakka River State Park visit on the day, which is why you inquire early should. It is also worth choosing a relatively windless day, as the alligators like to hide in the wind.

Wakulla Springs State Park

The Wakulla Springs State Park south of Tallahassee is not only popular with swimmers who cool off in the spring water. There will be too Airboat tours where you can watch alligators sunbathing. The most impressive example can be found in the Wakulla Springs Lodge: "Old Joe“, A three-meter-long stuffed alligator that was shot in 1966.

Hillsborough River State Park

Who in the Tampa Bay is on the move, alligators in the Hillsborough River State Park get to face - either on Hikes, bike tours or kayak trips. The gators like to sunbathe on the bank and on tree trunks.

Other places to see alligators in the wild include:

  • Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary near Naples
  • Sawgrass Lake Park in St. Petersburg
  • Merritt Island State Wildlife Refuge near the Kennedy Space Center
  • Ocala National Forest north of Orlando
  • Everglades & Francis S. Taylor Wildlife Preserve west of Fort Lauderdale
  • J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island

Not every large lizard in the Sunshine State is an alligator. We show you in CharacteristicsHow to Identify Crocodiles and What Characteristics This Florida Species Have:

The so-called real crocodiles are divided into 15 to 19 species on. Crocodiles live in Australia, Africa, South Asia and North and South America, among others. The species native to Florida is the so-called pointed crocodile or "American crocodile".

Already knew? “There are also white crocodiles. It is estimated that one in 20,000 crocodiles is affected by albinism. "

Crocodiles aren't picky about theirs habitat concerns. They populate freshwater areas such as rivers, lakes and swamps, but also brackish water habitats. Crocodiles can even be found in the sea. In Florida, the lizards are concentrated in the warm south of the state - especially in the Everglades, around the Florida Keys and south of Tampa and Miami.

Crocodiles size and weight

As one of the largest crocodile species in the world, the species living in Florida can be up to 7 meters and a length Weight of 400 kg. The females are characterized by a lesser degree size out.

Crocodiles food and way of life

The food the crocodiles range from snails and crabs to fish to turtles and birds. Even adult cattle fall victim to the animals.

Crocodiles are loners who jealously defend their territory. During the day they maintain an inactive Way of life. They usually hunt at night.

Crocodile babies and young animals

crocodile Babies hatch after an incubation period of 75 to 80 days and are usually 24–27 cm long. Small crocodiles hunt independently shortly after birth. Still, they stay Young animals with her mother for several weeks.

Alligators and crocodiles - the differences

Using the following differences can you Alligators and crocodiles keep apart:

  • Compared to alligators, crocodiles have a longer, more pointed mouth. The snout of alligators is shaped like a "U", that of crocodiles is shaped like a "V".
  • If you can see the animal's top AND bottom teeth, it's a crocodile. In alligators, the wider upper jaw hides the lower jaw.
  • While both reptiles are greenish in color, crocodiles have a lighter skin tone than alligators.
  • If you see a large reptile in the sea, it is most likely a crocodile. Alligators, on the other hand, do not tolerate salt water very well.

In the wild, the question of "crocodile or alligator" is usually superfluous anyway: While there are an estimated 1.3 million alligators in the Sunshine State, the number of crocodiles at 2,000 animals is negligible.

See crocodiles in Florida - the best places

Whether in the wild or in zoos - you can do so in the following places See crocodiles in Florida:

Crocodiles in zoos and aquariums

If you want to see Florida's crocodiles in captivity, we can recommend these zoos and aquariums:

  • Gatorland (Orlando)
  • Croc Encounters (Tampa)
  • Everglades Holiday Park (Fort Lauderdale)
  • Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens (Sanford)
  • Brevard Zoo (Melbourne)
  • ZooMiami (Miami)

Crocodiles in the wild

Crocodiles are a rare sight in Florida. If you like the animals in the wild want to watch, you can try it in the following places:

  • Everglades National Park: Here crocodiles share a habitat with their more common relatives, the alligators
  • Flamingo Marina in the Southern Everglades
  • South Biscayne Bay
  • Northeast Florida Bay
  • Shark River to Sanibel Island and the coastal waters around Cape Coral
  • Broward County
  • Florida Keys, especially Key Largo

Alligators and Crocodiles in Florida FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

Florida's alligators are found in all natural freshwater bodies of water - from the north of the state to the Florida Keys in the south. In contrast, they are rarely found in salt water.

How old do alligators get?

In the wild, alligators usually live to be 30–50 years old. In captivity, however, the animals have a longer life expectancy. The best example of this is Muja - at 83 years the oldest alligator in the world.

Alligators mainly eat fish, small mammals, turtles and birds, while young animals prefer larvae, snails and molluscs.

Do alligators eat people?

Normally, alligators do not attack people who are not on the lizards' menu. Nevertheless, it does happen that alligators attack when they are provoked or think humans in the water are prey.

How many alligators are there in Florida?

With a population of 1.25 million animals, alligators are widespread and no longer an endangered species in Florida.

American crocodiles populate tropical southern Florida, the Everglades and the coastal areas as far as Miami and Tampa. They are also found in the Caribbean, Latin America and northern South America.

Crocodiles are omnivores that feed on fish, mammals, birds, snakes, and turtles.Attacks on sharks have even been observed. In addition, crocodiles are cannibals that eat smaller crocodiles

How big do crocodiles get?

American crocodiles can be up to 7 m in length. However, 3–4 m is the average for males.

How old do crocodiles get?

In the wild, crocodiles usually have a life expectancy of 30–70 years - if they do not fall victim to their numerous predators when they are young.

How many crocodiles are there in Florida?

Only 2,000 crocodiles remain in the wild in Florida. However, from intensive conservation efforts, their population is showing signs of recovery.

Do crocodiles eat people?

Due to their rarity, there are hardly any encounters between humans and crocodiles. It is true that crocodiles behave more aggressively than alligators. However, the species is not known to be used for targeted attacks on humans.

How long have crocodiles existed?

Crocodiles are living fossils that have inhabited our planet for 200 million years. So they already existed when dinosaurs ruled the earth.

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