Say Hello to South Florida’s Coolest Resident - the American Alligator

alligator

Reptiles are always pretty cool. In South Florida, we're lucky to have one of the most extraordinary - the American alligator. With close to a million gators throughout Florida, you're sure to cross paths with one or two if you spend even a little time in the sunshine state. Why is this iconic reptile so popular and what is it about alligators that make them so interesting? If you'd like to meet one, and you're interested in learning a little more about South Florida's most iconic resident, here's some information to get you started.

Kin to the Dinosaurs?

Over the years, most South Florida residents have come to realize that they share their home with one of the oldest reptiles on the planet. "Modern day dinosaurs" sounds like a stretch, but there is solid evidence to support the notion that alligators walked the Earth millions of years ago. The alligator genus entered evolution 37 million years ago, and the modern alligator may be the closest living relative! One of about twenty-five crocodilians in the world, the scientific name for the American alligator is Alligator mississippiensis, which includes gators found in China as well as a few tropical crocodiles and alligator-like caimans. Worldwide, gator population estimates are unknown, but scientists estimate there are approximately five million, with one million living in Florida alone.

Living Among the Alligators in South Florida

Like it or not, alligators are a part of life in South Florida and most long term residents coexist easily with gators. However, it's important to understand the critical role they play in not only maintaining the state's wetlands and ecosystem, but also, as part of Florida's heritage. Alligators are certainly dangerous creatures, but living among them is easy with a little common sense and respect. Peaceful existence comes from education. It's illegal to feed an alligator, and respecting the law is a first step in staying safe. Alligators don't want to hurt people, and while there are gator attacks, most will not become violent unless provoked or threatened. Knowledge goes a long way in staying safe and as population growth in Florida increases, staying informed is the key to happy coexistence.

Enjoying Alligators in the Florida Everglades

In addition to some of the most unique tropical vegetation in the world, the Florida Everglades is home to scores of American alligators. Adventurous families come from miles around to experience the 'glades in person and for good reason. With narrated airboat tours, live gator shows and incredible wildlife encounters, the Florida Everglades is easily the state's most exciting natural attraction. Everglades Holiday Park in Fort Lauderdale offers hour-long narrated airboat rides followed by exciting gator shows in the world famous  "Gator Pit". With plenty to do and see, the Everglades is the premier destination in Florida for meeting the American alligator, and with exciting airboat rides, live gator shows and the original Gator Boys Alligator Rescue, Everglades Holiday Park is how to do it right.

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