Florida Alligators - Where to See Them!
Whether you like your gators roaming free or safely behind bars, there are plenty for you to see. (Er, and if they are roaming free, make sure there is a good distance between you and "jaws".)
Oh, and do you know the saying that there is a gator in every lake, pond and river in Florida? I don't know if it's really true, but I do know that they seem to be everywhere there's water!
Here's kind of a funny story really quick. Hubby and I were canoeing in a lake and we kept hearing these low growls. We didn't pay a whole lot of attention but we kept seeing gators surfacing. It wasn't until we were close to the middle of the lake that we realized what those growl sounds were -- it was alligator mating season!
And by this time, gators were all around us. Fortunately they were more interested in each other than in getting a bite to eat, so we made it safely back to shore (in record time, I might add).
Another true story -- one time we got lots of rain from a tropical depression that sat over us for a few days, and an alligator strolled up from the canal that was about 200 yards away and into our back yard. He did decide to go back to his canal home, although there was a bit of excitment that he showed up in the yard!
Where to Find Alligators
Gatorland: This is the home of the Gator Jumparoo show (I'll let your imagination take over on that one). Seriously, they do have such a show, along with alligator wrestling and lots and lots of alligators, from teeny-tiny to jumbo sized. Kissimmee, FL (800) 393-JAWS
Everglades Alligator Farm: Supposedly the original gator attraction (at least in South Florida). Don't know about that, but you have a good chance of seeing a gator in the wild here -- airboat rides into the Everglades take you into prime alligator and crocodile territory. The Everglades Alligator Farm also has shows every hour, naturally with gators (and other reptiles) as the stars. Florida City, FL (813) 992-2591
St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park: If you like humongous, come see Maximo! He's a crocodile over 15 feet long, and well over half a ton. And don't forget to see the albino alligators - legend has it that gazing at one brings good luck.
Just about anyplace that offers swamp buggy or airboat rides probably knows where the gators are. Just a few vendors are:
For any airboat or swamp buggy tour, please call ahead to make sure they have space for you (not to mention for directions).
Before I forget, there are places where you can many times see alligators -- by the side of the road! For any road that has a canal running along side, keep a watch for gators. (If you are driving **please** use someone else to be a gator spotter.)
One road famous for its reptile viewing is a road called Alligator Alley. It connects Southeast Florida with Southwest Florida, and runs smack-dab through the Everglades. You might see other kinds of wildlife too, but alligators are almost a certainty.
A word of warning if you want a "closer look" at the free gators -- please, please, please do not get close, unless you are separated by a fence of some sort. Let the telephoto lens on your camera do the work.
Alligators can move extremely fast and can potentially take a big chomp out of you before you realize they've moved. You cannot outrun an alligator over a short distance. So stay in your car (safest) or approach cautiously if there is a fence between you and the gator.
You don't want to spend your Florida vacation in an emergency room or hospital!
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