American alligators are massive. These large reptiles are not animals you want to mess with. In the United States, there is an estimated 5 million gators. While Louisiana has the most alligators in the country, Florida isn’t too far off. American alligators are common in Florida, but are they found throughout the state? What about in Destin, a beachy paradise? Follow along to learn if Destin has alligators, and if yes, where.
Are There Alligators in Destin?
Alligators aren’t very common in Destin, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Nearly every year, there are reports of alligators walking along roadways or within lakes. However, the most alligators in Destin are in Gator Beach at Fudpucker’s Beachside Bar & Grill. It’s a safe way to see and learn about alligators up and close. Gator Beach is free to visit and is home to hundreds of American alligators.
Where is Destin, Florida?
So, why is seeing wild alligators in the state so strange? Destin isn’t a large city in the state’s center, but a coastal city! This coastal city has a surface area of 7.66 square miles. It’s in Okaloosa County and is part of the Crestview–Fort Walton Beach–Destin metropolitan area. Millions of tourists flock to Destin, but not because of the city’s alligators. Destin is known for stunning and picturesque white beaches and emerald green waters. Previously, Destin was a small fishing town.
While alligators aren’t extremely common in the city, you can find other wildlife. Destin, for instance, is a great place to view sea life. Some sea life you may see on your next trip to Destin are common bottlenose dolphins, humpback whales, finback whales, spinner dolphins, northern seahorses, and Atlantic sand crabs. Destin is also a great birding city. While here, you may spot songbirds, shorebirds, and predatory birds. A few birds that live in Destin include great blue herons, red-shouldered hawks, common loons, blue jays, downy woodpeckers, barred owls, and snowy egrets.
About American Alligators
Now that we know if Destin has alligators and more about the city, let’s discuss this massive reptile. American alligators are one of the largest animals in Florida. Within the state, there are around 1.3 million, maybe even more! American alligators are found in every Florida county. If you’re in Florida, near any body of water, always assume there is an alligator. There are excellent hiders!
Size and Appearance
American alligators are best known for their massive size. Male American alligators are larger than females. They can reach around 16 feet long, although not very common. Most adult American alligators are 11 to 15 feet. Females, though, can be as small as 8 feet long. Although unconfirmed, some reports indicate that American alligators in the 19th and 20th centuries may have measured as much as 19 feet and 2 inches. What about their weight? These large reptiles weigh between 200 and 800 pounds.
American alligators have a unique appearance from other animals that share the same environment. They have thick, bony scales, also known as scutes. Alligators are olive, brown, gray, or black with white underbellies.
Distribution and Habitat
American alligators are native to the Southeastern United States. They are from southern North Carolina to Everglades National Park in Florida. They are also in Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, and Alabama.
American alligators live in swamps, streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes. They are more common in freshwater but may also swim through brackish water.
It’s easier and shorter to ask what an American alligator won’t eat compared to what they do. American alligators aren’t picky. They aren’t always hungry, often seen floating or swimming near their prey. Their diets include fish, invertebrates, frogs, birds, and mammals. They are fast and cunning, using their sharp teeth to catch prey. American alligators are apex predators. They are so strong they can easily crack through a turtle’s shell.
Since American alligators are apex predators, they have few to no predators. The most common alligator predators are humans. However, young American alligators are vulnerable. Juvenile alligators may be hunted by large fish, wading birds, raccoons, and adult alligators. Although alligators are ferocious animals, only around eight survive to become sub-adults out of a clutch of 38.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Cindy Larson
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