Gators Are Just Misunderstood

alligator - ready to cross path in the Everglades - 2005

By Judy Berman

When our daughter, Danielle, went to Florida State University, I worried about gators.

No, not those Gators – FSU’s main rival, the University of Florida. But, alligators.

OK, I worried about many things with her being hundreds of miles away from home. But, gators were high on that list of concerns.

Danielle just joked that the landlord used the gators for speed bumps in their Tallahassee apartment complex’s parking lot.

Truth be told. She and her husband never saw an alligator UNTIL we moved to Florida. Then, those reptiles seemed to be everywhere.

I should have known when I spotted a photo of a gator ringing a doorbell at a home in Hilton Head, South Carolina, that they were quite intrusive.

This poor chap’s excuse, apparently, was that he was drawn to their home by the smell of teriyaki chicken that the homeowners were grilling on their back porch.

The homeowners wisely moved inside once they spotted the gator in a nearby lagoon.

So what brings these creatures that roamed the earth millions of years ago to our neck of the woods?

“Oh,” they drawl with that big toothy grin, “the swimming hole is just fine, there’s plenty of wildlife to share a meal with, and we’d love to be invited in to chat with your guests and cats.”

Uh, no.

An adult alligator is about 13 feet long and weighs up to 800 pounds. The largest ever recorded was found in Louisiana and measured 19 feet, 2 inches, according to Animal Corner.

Dave and I can’t seem to get away from them. We went to the Everglades, and, of course, the gators were there – in abundance.

One came out of the pond and crossed a path that we had naively walked around just a few hours earlier.

Then, a tourist stepped off the platform we were on to get a closer – too close for my comfort – photo of the alligator.

I was camera-ready for the money-shot. The gator just nonchalantly walked on by.

Just imagine that alligator acting like a boss on the golf course.

Not sure if golfers at Myakka Pines Golf Club in Englewood decided to run in a straight line or to zigzag to avoid a confrontation with that huge beast. Either way works, or so they say.

I’d be on the first golf cart out of there. And, the song I’d be singing on my way to the 19th hole: “See ya’ later, alligator … ”

What wildlife is intriguing or too close for comfort in your neck of the woods? 

Music Video: Bill Haley sings “See You Later, Alligator” – that’s the tune I’ll be singing when I see one.  

Main Photo: Alligator ready to cross a path in the Everglades where a tourist is standing about 20 feet away and taking photos. Too close for comfort. Photo: Judy Berman, 2005

Alligator facts – Animal Corner –

Link to ‘Living Among Alligators’ – provides an alligator safety guide – tips on how to avoid an attack by an alligator.

  1. oh, wow! all we have here are deer and raccoons, nothing to viscous to worry about. oh, i forgot. the killer mosquitoes!

  2. I did have a deer jump run across the road in front of my car the other day, but no alligators here–as far as I know! And I don’t think the Jersey Devil gets this close to Philadelphia. 🙂

    That alligator on the golf course looks huge and prehistoric!

    1. Now, Merril, the Jersey Devil would certainly trouble me. I hope it stays far from Philadelphia. 😉 Thank goodness, that deer and you made it safely home that day. Years ago, a deer crossed my path one night on my way home from reporting on a story. I stopped and looked to make sure it was OK. It had high tailed it out of there and was nowhere in sight. My car had some damage, but it was minor and I was able to get home.

      Yes, that gator is impressive and one I would give wide berth to.

  3. Your gator photos are unbeatable, Judy.

    We have them in our neck of the woods too, and had to give up canoeing across the street and down over the hill in the lake of our neighborhood because of the gators.

    Once Joel – then about 4-5 – had to be rescued by in a canoe the seat of his pants when he leaned over to “pet” the alligator – yikes!

    We had trouble with a few armadillos who were literally eating our grass alive. The last one had to be captured (and re-located) by a game specialist!

    1. Marian … I used that photo of the gator at the door on our Christmas letters one year. It just makes me smile.

      About a year ago, my husband and I paddled a kayak at the Brevard Zoo. There are gators there, but they keep them out of this area. We had a guide in a separate kayak. She monitored all of us which was good because I got off course. I was fighting panic, but she managed to get us back to the group.

      So, I can only imagine how freaked you must have been when Joel wanted to “pet” the alligator. Yikes, indeed.

  4. Bears and mountain lions out our way. People think they are only in the woods and rocks, but we find tracks in the neighborhood and parks.

    By the way, I’d be more concerned with Anacondas. But, that’s just me.

    1. So far, Anacondas are in the Everglades. Disperser, I sure hope they never make it this far north.

      Bears have roamed in some neighboring counties. Mountain lions, no. We’ve had Bobcats in our area. They were treating the ducks in a nearby mobile homes unit like their personal buffet.

  5. Judy I live in West Wales we have Foxes , Badgers , Pheasants, Kites ,
    Sheep and Cows …these animals are not scary beasts . However beautiful in their own way Alligators are a little terrifying when you are just about to tuck in to your barbie he he !!!!

    1. Cherry … when you’re not sure whether the alligator wants to tuck into you or your Barbie, yeah! That’s even scarier. 😉 I wouldn’t mind seeing the animals you see in West Wales.

  6. Mosquitos freak me out, around here. I am very scared of gators, probably because I haven’t been around any. Does this post mean it’s possible to encounter one and escape with one’s life?

    1. I have seen alligators in our pond (retention pond) and in Viera wetlands – which is several miles from our home. I maintain a respectful distance and am quite capable of running away at a good speed.

      Mosquitos hit far closer to home. They’re no friend of mine, Ann. 😉

  7. I thought seeing a fiddler spider in my bathtub was cause for panic. Not after seeing that beast up against the front porch. Dang. He ain’t sellin Mary Kay, that’s for sure!

    1. You crack me up, Apple Pie & Napalm. Very observant! No, he wasn’t selling Mary Kay. One of the captions someone wrote in to a newspaper columnist’s blog was: “Just hand over the Schnauzer and nobody gets hurt.”

      I have no idea what a fiddler spider is, but I will go to great lengths to avoid all of them. 😉

    1. Diana … I can only take credit for the main photo of the alligator emerging from the pond and about to cross the path. We had no idea that was lurking there when we first walked around the pond in 2005 in the Everglades. Yikes!

      I’m relieved that there have been no other near misses. 😉

  8. I’ve never seen a gator, Judy, and have no desire to. Not even sure if I could tell one from a crocodile. We have plenty of deer taking out cars up here in CNY (although Mark B’s nemesis is a skunk), but at least deer are more photogenic on a golf course than that creature in the photo!

    1. Jim … If I’d been on that golf course, I would have freaked. Deer on a golf course or in our back yard when we lived in the country in Oswego County – breathtaking. Crossing my path – or about to – anywhere, scary!

      There are differences between alligators and crocodiles, but I don’t want to get close enough to figure that out. 😉

  9. Oh my word, Judy! The photo of the alligator, at the front door, is unreal! I think I’d be heading north. We have coyotes around our house, but they never ring the doorbell. 🙂

    1. Kate … I think you’re right about the coyotes’ preference for who they want to hang with … or chew on. But, people might be far more scary, especially for the wild critters. 😉

  10. I don’t want to see a Gator from too close, either, Judy. I think we northerners are rightfully frightened. What we don’t know can hurt us. Big! As in teeth, jaws, grip … Strong, too. Yikes. FYI, I think alligators live in the southern U.S. and crocodiles live in Africa. Different reptiles altogether, if I recall. I don’t want to meet them, either. 😮

    1. Actually, Mark, we have crocs down south here, too. They even can be found in the salt water. It’s one reason I will not be dipping my toes … or me … in any body of water except our pool. 😉

  11. Love this post! That gator on the golf course looks like a dinosaur and at first, I was sure it was Photoshopped. But that one of yours … wow! I’ve seen them pretty close-up, but I have no desire to meet one any closer!

    1. Britt … Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed my post. I checked with Dave and he agrees that gator in the Everglades was 20 to 30 feet away from the tourist. The tourist had been up on the stand with us. Then he went down on the ground level. I really was worried for him, but the gator just walked on by.

      That gator on the golf course is HUGE! I read that it was about 19 feet long. Holy cow! 😉

  12. Judy I am fascinated by them, maybe because we don’t have any where I live, they are further up in the tropical state of Queensland. At least if you have one in your yard they are big enough to see and avoid. I have venomous snakes, two inside my screen door of the laundry last year. This year I blocked the holes at the backdoor and the count is down to none for summer. Don’t get me started on the Funnel webs. We live in the countryside and are blessed with the wilds of nature all around at best we leave each other alone. I am learning to stay calm when we meet. My kids are calmer than me, because they don’t know any different.

    1. Kath … Whether gators can hide depends on how high the grass and weeds are. One of my students told me they had a coral snake – which is venomous – in their garage. Yeah, I’d be wary, too. Glad you found a way to block them.

      Learning to stay calm is the best. I have to work on that. When a regular, non-venomous, snake got inside our house,. I scooped him up with a broom and dust pan and got him the heck out of Dodge. 😉

  13. Sorry, no matter what I cannot like alligators or crocodiles. I have loved a rat, my son used to have. I have also enjoyed a wide variety of animals. My favorites are birds, though. I do like dogs and cats, too. I am afraid of coyotes and a little bit of wild pigs. These are rare occurrences in Ohio. I also hate jelly fish. This was a great idea, you are getting all kinds of funny and interesting comments, Judy!!

    1. Robin … I do love animals, but I draw the line with some. Others, I maintain a respectful distance … as do they. Wild pigs seem to be too ornery. I wouldn’t tangle with one. Are jellyfish the same as Portuguese Man-of-war? If so, I’ve spotted jelly fish on the beach. They look like blue plastic Zip-Loc bags. Those tentacles, though, watch out! I’m told they sting like crazy.

      Glad you enjoyed this. Some of the comments have cracked me up. 😉

  14. An alligator ringing the doorbell – aahhhh, nooo!!!! 😯 That brings images of Little Red Riding Hood to mind!

    I really can’t imagine walking in a park and coming across an alligator strolling by. That’s just too alarming for me! Must feel like living in Jurassic Park?!!

    I’ve never been to Florida, but now that you’ve reminded me again of the Gators, I will remember that if I ever think of going. Is there some kind of scent you can put on yourself to deter them (like insect repellent)? Obviously not Teriyaki Chicken Sauce! 😀

    1. Suzy … I am on the watch for gators because I’ve seen them in our pond and in a neighboring pond when we were out on a walk.

      Hmmm. A repellent for alligators. You are correct. Teriyaki Chicken Sauce would not be the way to go. 😉

  15. The alligator strolling or is it jogging across the golf course is striking (but far from beautiful). I would not want to see a gator that close and even from afar, though. As for killer mosquitoes that have been mentioned, we have plenty of those in Zambia – they transmit malaria. Worst little things you can ever be attacked by.

    1. At least with the gator, you have a chance to put distance between it and yourself. But, with a mosquito, no such chance. Zambian Lady, you’re right. Mosquitoes carry malaria and many other diseases such as West Nile virus, encephalitis and dengue. Just to name a few. It’s enough to make you want to stay indoors – with a mosquito repellent.

  16. No, you definitely win on the scary visitor stakes, Judy. We get pesky squirrels and the occasional deer who eats all our garden plants, and very occasionally a scavenging fox. The usual stuff. The picture of the alligator by that front door is amazing!

  17. I remember in Tavares and Eustis when I was a cu scout, that the scoutmasters wouldn’t let us wonder to close to the lakes. They always wanted us to travel in groups of 3 or 4. We’d ask why? “Gators”

    1. He was right to have you be on the alert. Last night, my husband and I took a stroll past a pond in our neighborhood. Several years ago, I saw a gator in that pond and I was watching it closely as we passed by. I hear kids tell me that they swim in known gator areas. They think it’s hilarious. I think they’re certifiable.

  18. Porcupines, snakes and warthogs come my way…s’okay, amigo. But, gators galore? Oh heck, no way, José! Take care, Judy dear, aye, you’re a brave lass! 😊

    1. Oh, Mal, I’m really not that brave. My eye is on every bush, every shadow, every whatever lurking behind a tree. 😉

      I saw a porcupine once when we lived in the country in Central New York. It was on our back porch which was not enclosed. Our dogs tangled with them a few times – much to their regret.

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