The most common predator in the Florida Everglades is... you guessed it! The American Alligator. Are you ready for some other fun facts about alligators, some of which call Smugglers Cove Adventure Golf home? We've rounded up 7 interesting and amazing facts about our Florida alligators.
Where Did the Name Alligator Come From?
Early Spanish settlers in Florida named these giant reptiles 'el lagarto' which is Spanish for lizard. Scientists came along and gave the alligator its formal name, Alligator mississippiensis. Alligator sinensis is the scientific name for the only other alligator species, the almost extinct Chinese alligator.
What's the Difference Between Alligators and Crocodiles?
Alligators and crocodiles are closely related but in separate families. Crocodiles are in the Crocodylidae family rather than the Alligatoridae family. Crocodiles are generally larger and live longer than alligators, while alligators are more widespread in North America.
You'll win by a nose when identifying alligators if you remember that alligators have a broad, rounded U-shaped snout while crocodile snouts are a pointy V-shape. Southern Florida is the only place in America where you can see alligators and crocodiles naturally coexisting.
Where Do Alligators Live?
Florida alligators prefer freshwater rivers, lakes, marshes, and swamps over the brackish water most crocodiles love. You'll find American alligators across most of the southeastern part of the country, especially in Georgia, Louisiana, and Florida.
Experts estimate that five million alligators call America home. Of that total, approximately one-quarter of them live in Florida. In fact, Gainesville, Florida has the largest population of gators in the country!
How Big Do Florida Alligators Get?
Oh, just 13 or so feet long and around 800 pounds, is all! The largest American alligator on record came in at a whopping 17 feet, 5 inches! That monster was probably a male since most females tend to be a bit smaller. It's hard to tell for sure since an internal examination is the only real way to tell the sexes apart.
How Long Do They Live?
Alligators might live to be 35-50 years. That same alligator could live to 60-80 years old in captivity.
How Are Baby Alligators Born?
Baby alligators hatch from leathery eggs buried inside nests built by their mother. The scaly mom-to-be will lay between 20-50 eggs in her nest and fiercely protect them against all comers. Interestingly, the sex of the babies is determined by the temperature of the nest. If the nesting temp is 86° or lower, the hatchlings will all be females. If the temperature is above 93°, only males will be produced.
Once the eggs hatch 60 to 65 days later, mom will carry them between her toothy jaws down to the water for their first swimming lesson. Her hatchlings will stay with their devoted mother for as much as two years before striking out on their own.
Florida alligators mate between mid-April and late May. It's best to stay well away from gators at that time because they get extra aggressive.
What in the World is That Growly Bellowing?
It's probably the same sound you would make if you were roaring without any vocal cords! The alligator makes it by sucking air into its lungs and blowing it out forcefully. The result is a very loud, deep roaring sound used to attract mates, intimidate rivals, and warn intruders away from the alligator's territory.
Come Visit Our Florida Alligators
Enjoy adventure golf and alligators when you visit our adventure mini golf courses in Bradenton, Fort Myers, Sarasota, Indian Shores, and Madeira Beach. Learn even more fun facts about alligators when you visit our Educational American Alligator Exhibit. There's one at each Smugglers Cove Adventure Golf location.
Each Exhibit houses 20 to 30 baby alligators in comfort and safety. You’ll even have an opportunity to feed these baby gators with a cane fishing pole. Feeding baby alligators and playing pirate-themed adventure golf? Sounds like perfect Florida fun! Contact us for more information and to get ready for the fun to begin.