The alligator can be found in the southern United States, from North Carolina to Florida and the Gulf Coast. A smaller species is also found in the Yangtze River Valley, China. Alligators can be spotted along swamps and waterways and are popular in Florida as a major tourist attraction in the wild and in parks. In the USA, wild alligators are now protected by law.
Things You'll Need
- Binoculars (optional)
- Camera (optional)
Alligators in the Wild
Look for alligators during the day in regions where they are known to roam such as Florida or other areas of the southern US. Any swamp area or water way such as a river may be home to the reptiles. They particularly prefer still water and areas where there is plenty of vegetation such as long grass. They typically spend the day just below the surface of the water, floating or resting on muddy river banks. At night they are more active and this is when they hunt for small animals along banks or in the water.
Watch for signs of alligator nests in the summer months. These nests are built by the female and consist of rotting vegetation, often found on river banks. The nest may contain up to 70 eggs.
Drive along roads that run along canals or rivers (in alligator regions) such as "Alligator Alley," a road that runs past the Everglades from Southeast Florida to Southwest Florida. This is the most popular road for alligator spotting. Gators can be watched from a safe distance, inside the car.
Popular Alligator Parks
Visit the Everglades Safari Park if you want to see alligators close up. You can learn more about them from the expert staff. The park is 15 miles west of Miami city limits and consists of 1.2 million acres of jungle and watery grasslands where the alligators live in their natural environment. The park offers nature programs, gator wrestling shows and airboat rides through the glades to spot the reptiles. Take a camera for some close-up photos.
Stop by the Everglades Alligator Farm in Dade County, close to the Everglades National Park. This is a working alligator farm that offers airboat rides through the glades and alligator feeding presentations and shows. There are over 2,000 alligators on the farm.
Visit Gator Park in Miami, Florida, on the Eastern side of the Everglades located between Miami and Naples. This is a popular place for watching alligators, offering airboat rides for better views of the reptiles.
Spend a day alligator spotting at the Everglades National Park, a large, tropical marshland at Chekika, open December to April, when it is not submerged under water in the wet season. This is a favorite area for alligators. Take a pair of binoculars to get some close-up views of the animals.
Tips & Warnings
- Alligators seem lethargic but can move very fast when they want to. Do not feed them in the wild.
- If spotting alligators in the wild, do not get close to them. They can easily outrun humans and can cause serious injury or death if provoked.
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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