Contrary to all expectations, the Everglades was one of the coldest places we had the pleasure of stopping. Only there for about three days, I did a tram tour, saw wildlife, and worked on my school.
The tram tour we took was two hours out and back to a watchtower. I saw too many alligators to even count! The closest one was close enough for me to touch! The coolest one though, was a mama gator that had her tiny baby resting on her back. The biggest gator we saw was longer then seven feet. Their skin looks like armor, and is brought up in points like a shield.
I learned about how to spot them on the side of the road, and how to identify where they have been. Gators are actually everywhere, and if you look closly on the sides of the highway, they are typically laying on the banks of the trench. Sometimes under a shady tree, or sunning in the grass. If you can’t see any alligators, the next best thing to console yourself is to be able to identify their tracks and signs.
Alligator tracks remind me of a large bird’s tracks. Look for five toes and a smear from their tail. Another way to track a gator is to look for their “hot tubs” in the grasses. In the marshes and swamps, look for a circular pool lined with grasses and plants that have also begun to lay flat and are pulled by the whirlpool motions of the alligators. I saw so many of them, I began to wonder if there are TOO many gators in Florida!
On our tour, I also saw a few different egrets, and learned the difference between an alligator and a crocodile. Crocodiles are usually found to be more aggressive, and have longer, skinnier jaws. The ranger told us that we would rather fight a gator then a croc, but honestly, it would be terrible to head to head with either. The top picture below is an alligator, and the bottom is a crocodile. Look for a difference in the jaw, and the more aggressive way the crocodile looks. Like he might savor death slowly, while the gator looks like he just told a halarious joke.