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7 Surprising Alligator Facts You Maybe Didn't Know

Did you know that alligators first appeared on earth 37 million years ago? That doesn’t just make them old; it makes them living dinosaurs! And today, nearly 1.3 million of these living dinosaurs call Florida home.

Here in Kissimmee, you'll spot some of these amazing American alligators in lurking waters. Some of area's most popular attractions feature them throughout the park to encourage families to learn more about their habits, lifestyle, and overall being. Over the years, we’ve learned a thing or two about these amazing creatures, and today we’re sharing what we know with you. Get ready because you're about to take a bite out of these amazing facts. 

photo:@ justwanttotakepictures

Alligators Go Through A Lot Of Teeth

Seriously, a lot. In fact, estimates suggest that the average alligator will lose nearly 2,000 teeth over the course of their lifetime. Luckily, they’re able to regrow new teeth almost as quickly as they lose them, and at any given time they may have up to 80 teeth in their mouths. Unfortunately, while alligators are known for their many teeth, they don’t seem to do a lot of smiling. Maybe they need to make a trip to the dentist?

photo: Gator_4_ Mark_ Evans

Alligators Can Leap Five Feet In The Air

Animals thinking about hanging out on low-hanging branches above the water may want to think again. That’s because alligators can leap up to five feet out of the water to snag their dinner. They do this by pushing themselves up with their tails. It’s an incredible sight to see (as long as you’re a safe distance away while watching it). Since they have a diverse palate, leaping is just one way to keep their appetite up. 

 

photo:@ jmphotography2014
photo: Wild Florida

Albino Alligators are Real

Some people might think that albino alligators are a myth. But here in Florida, we know they are very real. They lack melanin which makes their skin completely white and very sensitive to sunlight. That's why they live in climate-controlled and shady habitats to keep them comfortable. These special gators also have a unique coloring in their eyes. If you look close enough, you'll see their sparkly pink eyes from the blood vessels showing through.  

photo: Gatorland

Alligators Are Faster Than You Think

It’s a common misconception that alligators are slow creatures. Sure, they may like to conserve energy, but if they have to pick up the pace, watch out! Alligators can reach speeds of up to 35 mph on land (though they are known to tire quickly). In the water, an alligator can reach a top speed of 20 mph. That’s faster than a bottlenose dolphin. They also have a lot more stamina in the water, which means you should never challenge one to a race.

Not Only Do Alligators Run, They Also Climb

As if a running alligator wasn’t impressive enough, these prehistoric powerhouses are also known to climb ladders, staircases, trees, and even fences! All they need is enough of an incline to pull themselves up. This means if anyone is ever out looking for alligators in the water, they may want to look up. 

photo: @loris_lens

Alligators Are Crafty

No, we’re not talking about arts & crafts, but alligators have been observed using tools to help them while hunting. Specifically, they use sticks as lures by gathering them on their snouts. Then, they wait for unwary birds to stop by for a visit, usually looking for potential material to build their nests. Dangerous and smart, alligators are a force to be reckoned with in nature.

Alligators Make Great Mothers

For the reputation alligators have as an apex predator, they have surprisingly strong maternal instincts and are known to be fiercely protective of their young. This starts when they’re still in their eggs. A mother alligator builds a comfortable nest to keep their eggs warm, and during the 65-day incubation period, she’ll never stray far from that nest. When it’s time for her babies to hatch, a mother alligator will carefully carry each egg in her powerful jaws from the nest to the water. But motherhood for an alligator doesn’t stop once her babies are out of their eggs. In fact, alligators are known to protect and watch over their young ones for up to a year.

photo: @terencebakin

Ready To Learn More?

Alligators are incredible animals, and you can discover more amazing facts about them right here in Central Florida!

To learn more, visit the websites below: 

Do you have a favorite fact about alligators we didn’t mention here? We’d love to hear it! Tag us @ExperienceKissimmee on Instagram, @Kissimmee on Twitter, or visit the Experience Kissimmee Facebook Page where you can share your interesting, impressive, or just plain unbelievable alligator facts with us. We can’t wait to hear from you!

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