Scary. Ferocious. Primal.
Those are some of the words people use to describe the American alligator, but what about cuddly?
Zoo Miami’s Ron Magill and CBS4 photojournalist Mitch Cuba recently took it upon themselves to capture the gentler side of alligator life. Filming on location in the Everglades, the pair captured springtime scenes of gators in the thrall of mating season.
What they revealed may surprise. Gators, as it turns out, have a pretty tender mating ritual, contrary to their fierce reputation.
While considered the official state reptile since 1987, and listed as a protected species, Florida does allow harvesting of alligators at certain times of the year through its management program.
Florida gators tend to grow to about 10 feet in length, but there have been some exceptions to the rule. The current state record is a 13-foot, 10 ½-inch gator that weighed in at 1,043 pounds. This male was located in Alachua County’s Orange Lake, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Alligators are found throughout the state with a rather robust population right here in the Tampa Bay area. It’s not uncommon for residents to have brushes with the critters either. Homeowner’s have even discovered them on their front porches, as was the case in Pasco County in early 2013.
Love stories about Florida wildlife? Be sure to check out: “Florida Cops Brake for Bees.”