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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Alligators on Hilton Head Island Alive and Well

 How many alligators do you typical see when you're out for a bike ride?  One, two, or maybe three?  At least 3 would be my answer.  This is one pon/lagoon, one sunny spot further down the bike path/trail/road another pond/lagoon had 3 or 4 more.  They were further away so I wasn't able to get a picture.  I saw alligators several days in row, almost in the same spot.  Now being from Ohio, I'm not accustomed to seeing alligators.  But, after spending 2 weeks on Hilton Head Island, it began to seem the "norm".
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The one in middle almost silver.  The one on the right was huge.  Probably can't really tell that from my little point and shot camera...AND, no......I didn't try to get closer for a picture.  Males are typically about 12 feet long and weight around 500 pounds, though last May, 2012 a 13 foot male weighing 1,000 was found in Bluffton which is about 45 minutes from Hilton Head.  Female's are smaller, around 160 pounds, but regardless of the size they have 40 teeth and can produce 3,000 pounds of pressure with their mighty jaws.  Normally they hibernate in the winter months, trying to stay warm in their mud dens from October to May, so my seeing them almost everyday in January is a apparently unusual.  I've seen them other trips there, also in January; but nothing like the number I saw this time round.

They will eat almost anything, and anybody if provoked.  There are signs everwhere warning people to stay away, to not feed them, and not harass them.  When out west in places like Yellowstone where wildlife abounds....you always see some idiot who thinks the sign means everyone but him or her.  I would imagine the same thing happens here on Hilton Head Island.  If you feed them, you will be heavily fined.  And once you feed them, you can almost bet the gator will have to be killed.  Why?  Because once fed by humans they will approach and become aggressive.  Even when not provoked small pets and children are at risk and should not be around lagoons, particularly not the edge.  In addition to the wild life they've been known to eat rabbits, small deer, and dogs.

The are cold blooded animals, so warm themselves with the sun, and cool themselves with the water depending on the time of the year.  Though they are a fresh water creature, they will travel through salt water to get to better food so can be found even on the beach, or in the marshes.  Spring and Fall is suppose to be the best time to see them.

Mothers protect their young.  Alligators can protect their young up to 3 years, and even a non aggressive Gator will go after anything and anyone without fear if they feel their young are in danger.   So, even if you don't see the Mother Gator; chances are she is there and you should be ware.

Alligators are very quick and very fast, they can outrun most people, even a horse for a short distance, something around 50 yards.  If you're being chased by one; you should run a zig zag pattern; as they can't make turns very fast.

Though the population is prevalent on Hilton Head Island, large gators are removed to protect humans on The Island.

Makes me wonder about Alligator shoes, and hats.....

3 comments:

  1. Very cool blog!!! Bet you were zipping on that bike of yours!! Great info about alligators!

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  2. I was indeed zipping along on my bike, tried to stay on the opposite side of the street, which in most cases was easy to do as the path tended to stay a safe distance from the danger areas. Thanks for the visit.

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  3. I remember seeing lots of gators when the kids were young and we took twice-yearly trips to Florida. A friend was talking to one (kind of taunting it) as he walked along the side of the road and my hubby reminded him of just how fast those things can move. Fortunately, that gator must have been in a patient mood. ;O)

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