In Light of Monster Gator at Florida Golf Course, Here Are Six Interesting Facts About The American Alligator
Last week, people at a golf course in Florida were stunned after a massive alligator casually strolled along the grassy lawn. In that incident that reminded some of "Jurassic Park," some wondered if the viral video of the monster gator was even real.
But indeed it was, with the golf course authorities even saying that the giant reptile is actually like a mascot of the place, and it was definitely no big deal to them.
Perhaps for people not living in Florida and Louisiana--where gators can be a common sight--it can be a pretty big deal. So, here are some interesting facts about the American alligator.
1. LIKE A REPTILIAN KNIGHT. American alligators have an "armored" body, meaning their skin on the back is embedded with bony plates, as per Smithsonian National Zoo. These plates are called scutes or osteoderms.
The average size of an adult male alligator is 11.2 feet (3.4 meters), while a female alligator can stretch to 8.2 feet (2.6 meters). They have a long snout with nostrils facing upward to let them breathe even if the rest of their body is underwater.
2. WHERE TO SPOT THEM. The Smithsonian also shared that their locations can be pretty diverse, from North Carolina to Texas. Alligators can be found in freshwater, lakes, swamps and marshes. Salt water is not their friend, though, as they do not possess salt glands.
3. WATCH OUT--THEY GOT TOOLS! American alligators can be pretty cunning, too. They are known to use tools to lure birds. According to Wired, they balance branches and sticks to their heads to attract birds looking for material for their nests. Quite clever.
4. THEIR TEETH SPELL THE DIFFERENCE. Crocodiles and alligators look quite alike, but the secret is in the teeth. With alligators, their large fourth tooth in the lower jaw fits into an upper jaw socket. When they close their mouth, it is not visible.
Alligators also replace their teeth when worn out. At a time, they can have between 75 to 80 teeth, and in a lifetime, can go through have as much as 2,000 to 3,000.
5. EVERYBODY LOVES THE SUNSHINE STATE. YES, EVEN GATORS. In 1987, the American alligator was made the official state reptile. They are pretty common in Florida--from swamps and marshes, and as we've seen recently, even in golf courses.
6. AMERICAN ALLIGATORS = SUCCESS STORY. Alligators have made a remarkable recovery in number after being hunted down for their hide. They are still listed as threatened on the U.S. Endangered List, though, because of its similar appearance to the American crocodile, which is considered endangered.
A main threat to the American alligator is the loss of habitat, due to water pollution and water management systems.