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, the only things we might love more than our American Alligators are our alligator facts. Over the years we’ve learned a thing or two about these amazing creatures, and today we’re sharing what we know with you. Ready? Then let’s take a bite out of these amazing facts!
Alligators Go Through A Lot Of Teeth
Seriously, a lot. In fact, estimates suggest that the average alligator will lose nearly 2000 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?
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 seeing it). So, why are they leaping? Well, that has something to do with our next fact.
Photo: @wildfloridairboats on Instagram
Alligators Have A Diverse Palate
Some animals stick with one food their entire lives, but not alligators. These connoisseurs like to mix things up, and have been known to eat everything from insects and fish, to deer, turtles, panthers, and even bears! If that’s not shocking enough, alligators are also known for eating other alligators! In fact, over 5 percent of the juvenile American alligator population in some parts of Florida is found to meet their end after being consumed by their bigger counterparts.
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 is as good a reason as any not to challenge one to a race.
Photo: @peanut_killer on Instagram
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. Who knows, they might see an alligator sitting on a tree branch basking in the sun, or waiting to get the jump on their dinner!
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: @terencebackin on Instagram
Ready To Learn More?
Alligators are incredible animals, and you can discover more amazing facts about them right here in Central Florida! At Gatorland, you can explore interactive exhibits, take in a one-of-a-kind gator wrestling show, or even take a journey into the heart of a pond full of real alligators!
Or, if you’d rather get away from the theme parks and venture into the untamed headwaters of the Everglades, take a journey with Wild Florida Airboats & Gator Park. Offering airboat tours of Florida’s protected swamps, marshes, and rivers, Wild Florida offers the perfect opportunity to catch a glimpse of Alligators in their natural habitats!
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!