Baby Gator Alert

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.

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