Back to Nature (Published on TBNWeekly.com - April 6, 2005)
The American alligator feared and
A large picture window permits the person sitting
at one of the desks in front of the window to overlook a rather hodgepodge front
lawn of various weeds and wildflowers.
|Photo by Rick Tremmel
|The American alligator has
learned to live with humans, but people dont always give them
the respect and space they need. They should never be fed, because it
destroys their natural fear of humans and can lead to
To us, having a lawn means that the grass needs to be cut and fertilized, the
flowers need to be watered, the mole crickets need to be killed and our
little bungalow looks quite splendid when all those chores are done. To wildlife
our lawn means a place to eat, a place to sit a spell, a place to seek a shady
nook, a place to train the little ones and a place to make little
My friend cautioned its probably not allowed to be said, but theres a
lot of hmmmm
getting together on our front lawn. One day last
week, while typing with my muse, I observed much carrying on, wooing and
getting together. Early morn brought out the mourning doves, followed
by a flock of green quaker parrots, jesting Muscovy males and turned-up tailed
females, ring-necked Eurasian doves a courting and a sweet paired mockingbird
couple. It makes a mind wonder to just what kind of aphrodisiac species of grass is
growing out there? Maybe theres a market for those weeds?
Beyond the weeds and wildflowers is a short, private street that connects a string
of houses gathered up like rickrack around a tiny lake named Sylvia. Its
astonishing how many species of wildlife this seemingly insignificant body of water
attracts. This area is designated as an official wildlife refuge. A fact that is
probably unknown to newcomers, but it certainly was an enticing benefit when we
considered buying more than 15 years ago.
Sylvia is not likely noted on most maps, but to our minute part of the world she
represents a direct connection to the natural world and respite from the fumes,
lines of traffic and bustle of that other world. Red-winged blackbirds,
mallards, white ibis, great blue heron, anhinga, American coot, muscovy, great
egret, cattle egret, snowy egret, tri-colored heron, little blue heron, little
green heron, osprey, an occasional kingfisher and an occasional American alligator
have visited or made their homes upon the slender banks of Sylvia.
As humans encroach upon wild land wildlife species adapt to our ways of life. The
American alligator calls our ponds and lakes, home. So its not a complete
surprise to find Mr. Gator taking a swim in your swimming pool.
When a visitor asked a University of Florida professor, where do the
alligators go? the answer was, anywhere they want to go
you thought about doing some freshwater fishing while in Florida? There are many
lakes in the area with all types of fish. BUT, do you see that log
floating in the water? Take a closer look. That is NOT a log!
April and May is courting season for mature alligators. Its during this
season that alligators may make themselves more visible. During June and July,
after mating, the female alligator constructs a mound nest in a nearby marshy area
that provides her with food and camouflage. She will lay 30 to 35 eggs. The young
alligators hatch in mid-August through mid-September. The first two years are the
most critical for hatchlings. A 50 percent mortality rate is considered normal.
The young gators remain with their mother in groups called pods for at
least the first year, but may stay in the vicinity for up to three years. Mothers
are very protective and will aggressively guard her young. Sexual maturity is not
reached until most Alligators reach 6 feet in length or about 12 to 15 years.
If an alligator becomes a nuisance the Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission are
skilled and equipped to deal with this. Do not approach an alligator. Most attacks
by alligators begin with feeding by humans. Alligators are agile even on land,
deserving of our respect.
We take so much and offer so little, but wildlife will find a way to survive if
given the slightest chance of encouragement. Sylvia is one of thousands of dots of
water across our peninsula. With proper care and maintenance these oases will
continue to introduce life, wildlife and nature back into our communities and carry
on our world as a better place back to nature.
Karen can be reached at MyMuddyPawsStudio@gmail.com.