Scaly Motherhood, Witnessed

I had the general impression that alligators and crocs were indifferent parents. Females laid the eggs, hatched them, and the little pre-dinos were on their own. Not so —

About three decades ago, we were walking through the Everglades in FLA and came across a couple German-speaking tourists who were tormenting a foot-and-a-half-long baby alligator by pulling its tail. I was about to run up to them and tell them to cut it the fuck out when the baby let out this piercing shriek — very high-pitched and birdlike.

Instantly, with a horrendous roar, the mother burst out of nearby reeds and began racing on fully erect legs toward the tourists — this was no slow crawling, she was moving fast as an attack dog. If she had been a yard closer, one of the tourists would not have a hand today. They sprinted away in terror and we got away in the opposite direction as fast as possible. Fortunately the mother began nuzzling the baby and was happy for the hairless apes to get gone quick.

Just a reminder — as every park ranger will tell you, these animals are not to be approached.

PS: Have to add that on the end of the same walk, a full-size alligator was snoozing on the tourist path and people wold bend down and pet it as they went by. Didn’t holler “Don’t Do That!!” But should have.


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