An American Alligator In Florida
Although there are 23 species within the order of Crocodilia globally, there is only one specie of alligator found within the United (48) States, the American Alligator. Caimans are also are found in the U.S. but are not native to Florida, they are also found in Central and South America.
Alligators are a large, fresh water species of reptile. The adult males found in the wild can be up to 12 feet in length whereas the females will be 8 feet, and can weigh between 800 to 1000 lbs! The average lifespan in the wild for both male and female alligators is anywhere between 30 and 50 years, and can live for over 50 years in captivity.
Alligators have great binocular eyesight, meaning both eyes are used together to focus on one target. The downside is that they have a blind spot directly behind them. They also have a nictitatating membrane that allows them to see underwater, just not as well as above the water. The membrane will excrete a salty lubricant that will help keep the eyes clean, and when it is exposed to the air will look like tears. Night vision is another useful tool for the American Alligator: located just beneath the photo receptor cells are another layer of cells called the tapetum lucidum that will reflect light back in to the layer and increase the light levels for exceptional nocturnal vision.
Keep your eyes open for these amazing critters around freshwater lakes, ponds and creeks. never attempt to feed or harass the American Alligator as they are a protected species and may become hostile from you actions. Unfortunately many of the American Alligators found in Florida have been conditioned to accept food from humans. Again, this is highly illegal and can prove to be a dangerous encounter for you and the American Alligator
Stay tuned for more fun facts about Southwest Florida ecology, see you soon!