Friday, May 20, 2011

Postcard Frienship Friday and Sepia Saturday: See you later, Alligator

 American Alligator
"Beautiful Florida Alligator in Native Wilds"

 These guys have been around since the Cretaceous Period which is between 145.5 and 65.5 million years ago.  Cretaceous is derived the Latin work for "chalk".  There was a lot of chalk around at the time.

 Alligator Fossil

This alligator did not make it much beyond the chalk age.  Neither did the European varieties.  Today you will find Alligators only in China and in the South Eastern United States, which includes the pond in my back yard. The word "alligator comes from the Spanish word for lizard.  Quite an understatement, but that's what we call them.

Alligator planking "just for the halibut" c. 1925

This alligator is one of the first ever to be caught on film "planking" which is one of the latest stupid stunts to appear on Facebook and Youtube.

Mating, which can be rather raucous, takes place in the spring.  The mom builds a nest and lays 20 to 50 goose egg sized eggs that take a little over two months to hatch. . The temperature at which alligator eggs develop determines their sex. Does too! Those eggs which are hatched in temperatures ranging from 90 to 93 degrees Fahrenheit (32 to 34 °C) become males, while those in temperatures from 82 to 86 °F (23 to 30 °C) become female. Intermediate temperature ranges have proven to yield a mix of both male and females.  The hatchlings look like little replicas of mom, and stay with her for about 5 months.  This a period of time you really want to leave mom and the kids alone.  Mom is very protective.  Kind of like an alligator with lipstick.

Alligator hunting c. 1925

For years, alligators were hunted for their hides and tail meat, and just because they were there.  Although you wouldn't know it today, they eventually made it on the endangered species list. It was thought, in the late '60's that the population would never recover and that they would soon become extinct. But, recover they did, and they are no longer endangered.  Florida state law "prohibits killing, harassing, or possessing alligators.  Unless they become a nuisance, and then all bets are off.

These are professional trappers.  Do not try this at home.

 This was the case for Elvis the Alligator who made his home in our pond for several years.  He apparently was menacing a neighbor and her dog, and she called the Nuisance Alligator Hotline. Yes it is true.  Yes we do have a hotline for gator's in Florida.  

When you call and the Fish and Wildlife Commission determines there is a problem they call one of several licensed trappers to come and lure the alligator out of the driveway, backyard pool, kitchen, doghouse, highway, or school parking lot that he has decided to inhabit. 

He hissed a lot. 

 In this case, and we were sad to see him go, Elvis was lured from the pond and got to take a ride in a Ram truck.  With a Hemi engine.  But not before I touched him.  He felt like a really expensive handbag. He had reached 6' and was about 8 years old.  His unwanted exuberance was probably due to the fact that he had become sexually mature, and it is spring, after all. 

Generally, if you leave roaming alligators alone, they will go back where they belong. They usually keep to themselves and are not a threat just because you can see it in your pond.  However, when they show signs of aggressiveness it often results from folks being transplanted from pigeon feeding states who decide feeding the cute alligators is even more fun.  Problem is, alligators have a brain the size of a walnut.  About the same size as a person who feeds an alligator.  They don't have the capacity to know where the food ends and the body begins and will start lunging at anyone who appears at the edge of their habitat. 

Many folks unintentionally feed alligators by letting their dogs and cats run loose.  Alligators are all about eating.  They don't care if it's your prized poodle - it looks like food. Recently an alligator attacked a police car.

This has nothing to do with this week's Sepia Saturday theme, unless you take note that alligators will inhabit any "pool" of fresh water and you had better go to the "hospital" if you are bitten by one.  They carry bacteria that will cause a dangerous infection if left untreated. Things might start to fall off, so go see your Dr.

For more Postcard Friendship Friday go HERE and Sepia Saturday can be found HERE!


Brett Payne said...

No, not on theme, but great photos and an interesting post onetheless, thank you. In my neck of the woods, we had crocodiles, which I always had the impression were more dangerous, but probably there's not a great deal of difference.

Titus said...

Genius post! Entertained and educated - thanks.

MrCachet said...

Great education, Alligator!

Heather said...

Great post. I even shushed my family so I could keep reading.

Mike Brubaker said...

I lived in Savannah, Georgia for many years and often saw alligators in the wildlife refuge. They can be impressively large but are usually boringly inactive. The ones to watch out for are the smaller juveniles.


the last thing i ever expected to hear of here was "planking"!!! and i totally agree with you: stoooopid!! tell that to that australian guy that fell off his balcony and died...

not the kind of pets i'd like to have around my house, but i certainly respect the creatures.

Bob Scotney said...

I like yor last line 'Things might begin to fall off..' I'd be more concerned about losing an arm or a leg.

Karen S. said...

After awhile crocodile...make it soon big baboon...has to follow your opening line! Thanks for such iteresting info!

Postcardy said...

I remember when real alligator shoes, belts, and purses were popular before they became illegal. In my opinion, the fakes are just as nice.

Hazelicious929 said...

Alligators are creepy. I look at them in the zoo and think how can a 5 feet human can fit in alligator's belly. No, I am just thinking out loud.

Beautiful postcard. Mine is up - My PFF Entry.

Snap said...

Always fun to visit and see what kind of education I will get! Love the postcard and I don't think I'll go into alligator hunting/catching for a profession. :D :D Happy PFF!

Tattered and Lost said...

I would not leave my house without a baseball bat.

I remember my mother talking about hanging laundry in the backyard when we lived in Florida. Alligators and water moccasins. She was terrified for the entire year we were there. I was a tiny thing, probably would have made a tasty morsel if I'd been allowed to roam.

Great info.

Janice said...

A very interesting post, but I have to admit that alligators totally creep me out.

Anonymous said...

Fabulous post! We had the mystery alligator or crocodile here in LA for a while, living in a local park pond. He was crafty and even Steve Erwin couldn't catch him. That was most likely a "pet" that someone let loose. Crazy that someone would consider a "pet" alligator in the first place!

Lyneen said...

Lovely alligator post card... lots of information bout them that I never knew... then I would never think to feed on either. YIKES!

Thanks for sharing... Happy PFF!

barbara and nancy said...

Lots of gems here,,,"alligator with lipstick", "planking-just for the halibut", about the temperature determining their sex--"does too", "having a brain the size of a walnut,like the people who feed them",and many more that made me laugh.
I'm so sorry you lost Elvis. I think it would have been fun to have him in your backyard, although scary.
Thanks for your comment on my zentangle that I put on Sepia Saturday by mistake. I went back and changed it to something more"on theme" however not sepia. Barbara

tony said...

Somehow, Elvis is the perfect name!

Debby said...

Alligator with lipstick. Bwaahahahahhaha! Too funny, Musey.

Okay, here's the thing that pops in my mind: how did you know to name him 'Elvis' instead of, oh, I don't know...maybe...Sarah?

And the idea of having a sexually mature alligator running amuck in the neighborhood cracks me up for some reason. I have this vision of an alligator waiting, like some badly behaved dog, to hump your leg first chance he gets.

Sheila @ A Postcard a Day said...

I don't think I've seen an alligator, but crocodiles, yes. I don't believe there's much difference if you're on the receiving end.