July 22, 2013

Gator Country Facts

  • Kennedy Space Center is located on a 140,000-acre wildlife refuge. Forty percent of the refuge is water and it is home to a diversity of species like the American alligator.

  • Although alligators are considered a freshwater species, they are actually capable of utilizing saltwater habitats as well. Alligators at Kennedy Space Center commonly travel to nearby saltwater to hunt for food, but must return to freshwater to rehydrate their bodies.

  • While the Nile and saltwater crocodiles have a reputation for being very aggressive, the American crocodile is actually a very reclusive species.

  • Warning signs that an American alligator may become aggressive include wiggling its ears, wiggling its tail, hissing and opening its mouth.

  • Unlike American alligators, American crocodiles excrete excess salt through specialized salt glands, allowing them to live in saltwater habitats as well as freshwater.

  • As the population of once-endangered American crocodiles increases, Florida's nuisance wildlife responders are beginning to find crocodiles in the same urban situations they typically only find American alligators, like swimming pools and golf courses.

  • There are over 5 million American alligators in the US, with 1.2 million in the state of Florida alone.

  • American alligators can weigh up to 1,100 pounds and the biggest alligator ever recorded was 19.2 feet.

  • In the Florida Everglades, invasive Burmese pythons can lay up to 100 eggs at a time and have no natural predators as adults.

  • The Florida Everglades is the biggest subtropical wetlands in the United States –almost as big as the entire state of Connecticut.

  • Invasive Burmese pythons can grow up to 25 feet and eat almost anything in the Florida Everglades – even gators.

  • While American crocodiles can lay up to 56 eggs in one clutch, only 1% will actually make it to adulthood.

  • There are many theories as to how the Burmese python established itself as an invasive species in the Florida Everglades. One is that 900 pythons escaped from a breeding facility that was destroyed during Hurricane Andrew. Another is that pet pythons were released into the wild by their owners when the snakes grew too large.

  • Baby crocodiles are preyed upon by a variety of predators including sharks, birds, and even adult crocodiles.

  • Much of the water in the Everglades actually comes from rainwater that has filtered down from central Florida.

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