In the summertime at Tara, you will find no shortage of alligators, some of up them up to 13 feet in length. They can be seen basking in the sun along the banks of the lakes and ponds or poking their heads above the water.
There are some amazing things about this native animal species. We’ve put together a list of some of our favorite amazing alligator facts.
#1 Alligators don’t hibernate in winter.
Instead, they go into a period of dormancy in cold weather, spending their time in a burrow dug into the banks of the water. If the weather gets warmer, they will come out and bask in sun.
#2 Alligators live for about 50 years in the wild.
That’s a long life!
#3 Alligators can’t chew
So if prey is too large, they will take it into their mouths and do a ‘death roll’ to tear of smaller pieces or wait until it decomposes, making it easier to tear. They will eat smaller prey whole.
#4 Alligators can roar!
Males do this to attract females and to warn other males to stay away.
#5 Alligators will open their mouths to cool off.
This helps them to lose body heat and cool down. You may see alligators basking in the sun with their mouths wide open.
#6 As an alligator’s teeth wear down, they are replaced by newer, sharper teeth.
One alligator may go through as many as 3,000 teeth in their lifetime.
#7 Alligator eyes will reflect the color red when a light shines on them at night.
This is because they have a tapetum lucidum, a structure in the eye which helps reflect light into the retina, improving their ability to see in low light conditions.
#8 The jaw muscles of an alligator that work to close their mouths and grip are extremely strong while the muscles that work to open the mouth are fairly weak.
This is why duct tape is often used to tape the alligator’s mouth shut during transport or handling.
#9 The sex of a baby alligator is determined by the temperature of the nest while the eggs incubate.
At 87.8° F or below the eggs will become females; 89.6° F produces mostly males; and 90.5° F or higher produces mostly females.
#10 Female alligators are very protective of their nests.
Don’t get between them and their nests! They may continue protect their young after they hatch for the first year or so of their lives.
Read our article: Respect the Gator: American Alligators at Tara
Hear an alligator bellowing: