Steeped in old Florida charm, Gatorama is one of the few remaining original roadside attractions. Thousands of those snaggletoothed behemoths of the swampy southern lowlands call Gatorama home along with Allen and Patty Register and their son Benjamin. Teetering on the edge of civilization the Register’s are fifth and sixth generation crackers who love sharing their piece of the Everglades with the thousands of visitors that make the trek down south of Highlands County.
The differences and similarities between
Visually gators and crocs are quite different. Alligators have broad snouts, while crocodiles have a narrower snout and jaw. In alligators, the upper jaw is wider, exposing mostly only upper teeth, while crocodiles have equally sized upper an lower jaws, exposing and interlocking both upper and lower teeth.
Both species have webbed feet enabling them to swim easily in the water. They have tough, armored skin which is essentially made up of scales. These giant lizards breathe air, so their eyes and nostrils are set high on the head, enabling them to see and breathe while keeping the body submerged. Their jaws are very powerful when biting down but once the mouth is closed it can be held closed with ease. Their powerful tails help them navigate the water with grace and surprisingly, they can run quite fast on land with their short legs. Both gators and crocs are cold blooded and sun themselves to control their body temperature, they require an average temperature of approximately 80 degrees Fahrenheit to survive. The mothers make nests and lay up to 50 eggs on dry land close to the water. Mothers are very protective of their young, however, the babies are easy prey and only a few of them will reach adulthood.
Alligators and Crocodiles are found in warmer climates that have swampy or humid conditions for at least part of the year. The American Alligator's habitat consists mainly of the lower southeast regions of North America, from the Carolinas to Texas. The American Crocodile is scattered throughout the Everglades, Florida Keys, Mexico and Central America.
These giant lizards are carnivores that ambush their prey. They swim quietly along the top of the water until they are within striking range, then they then pounce upon their prey, grabbing it in their massive jaws, rolling and dragging it under water to drown. They are usually never seen until it’s too late. Alligators are not known to be aggressive and will usually only attack a man when unexpectedly disturbed or protecting its young. Crocodiles are more aggressive and territorial. Either way, it's best to give these beasts plenty of space and never linger on the bank or go swimming in water that is inhabited by crocodilians.
Alligator and Crocodile FAQ
1) How big is the largest Florida Alligator?
Female alligators rarely exceed 9 feet in length, but males can grow much larger. The Florida state record for length is a 14 foot 3-1/2 inch male and the heaviest gator in Florida was 1,043 pounds.
2) Is the American alligator an endangered species?
In 1967, the alligator was listed as an endangered species but downlisted in 1977 and in 1987, the American alligator was reclassified again. It is estimated there are now more than 1.25 million alligators in Florida.
3) Can I have an alligator as a pet?
Sorry, it is illegal in Florida to possess an American alligator as a personal pet.
4) How big are American Crocodiles?
They can get up to 15 feet in length, but most are 7 to 10 feet. They can weigh up to 450 pounds.
5) What do Crocodiles eat in the wild?
They mainly eat small fish, invertebrates, reptiles, birds and small mammals.
6) How many Crocodiles are in Florida?
While there are over a million alligators, there may only be 1,000 crocodiles.
Want to see alligators and crocodiles
up close and personal?
One of Gatorama's main attractions for visitors and professional photographers is the natural Florida scenery in which these prehistoric beasts sunbathe in the warm tropical climate. Giant oak trees and palm trees cover the fifteen acre attraction. Visitors will also find other animals along the covered 1000 foot walkway and wooden bridge, panthers, bobcats, raccoons, peacocks, ducks and geese all call Gatorama home, as do six species of crocodiles including the American Crocodile. Gatorama is the largest captive breeder in North America of the Acutus Crocodile.
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