Nothing makes you think of Florida like alligators do. Scaly, toothy, and unblinking predators capable of growing to 11 feet in length, the American Alligator seems to be of a completely different era. In fact, the living species dates back in the fossil record 8 million years. Before my trip to Florida in December, I had only encountered baby alligators at the zoo, where hatchlings were raised to a large enough size to be released somewhere in the wilds of southeastern U.S. I admit, I was somewhat apprehensive to seek out a wild alligator, but followed my guide along the trail. Much smaller than the behemoth I expected to find, this young little gator captivated my hiking buddies and me. He stood stock-still facing us, safe on the other side of the fence even though he was only 3 feet long. In the fading light of the day, his chin and length reflected beautifully on the still water of the swamp, ensuring our admiration of him from every angle.