G is for Gators: On the Lookout for Them in the Big Easy

G is for Gators: On the Lookout for Them in the Big Easy

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Alligators are a pretty common site on any swamp tour in Louisiana. With more than 3 million acres of coastal wetlands surrounding the area of New Orleans, it’s not unlikely to see hundreds of these reptiles in their natural habitat on any given day.

I’ll say that again: HUNDREDS. Even though hundred are killed for meat and leather… and photo ops. 
 
Currently, there are over 2 million wild alligators in Louisiana, and even more on Alligator Farms.

However, the day we had planned our tour for, New Orleans was experiencing an uncommon cold front. We must have brought the chilly weather back from New York. I’m not a fan of the cold weather, and apparently, neither are the gators.

When the weather gets chilly, they escape to their underground tunnels.  Being cold-blooded, they need to protect themselves by keeping warm.

Despite a chilly day, we were still able to see about 30 gators or so (my super-rough approximation, since no, I didn’t count at all). While most of them were babies, we did encounter a few 6-footers.

 

And our guide mostly kept the boat on the sunny side of town the swamp. THANK YOU MR ALLIGATOR MAN! George (let’s call him that, don’t remember his name unfortunately).

George was extremely knowledgeable about all things gator. We learned that alligators can only see in black and white and have no sense of hearing. However, their sense of smell is outta this world. No wonder they love marshmallows so much (being white and yummy smelling).  I know I do.  They have awesome taste in sweets.

Are alligators dangerous?

Good question, a really good question actually.  We give alligators a bad rep, when, in actuality, they surprisingly view humans as more of a predator than anything else. Until we start feeding them. So, if you ever find a gator hanging out in your backyard (which is pretty common in LA and FL), don’t give them any treats. Doing so will more than likely change the natural food chain…. 


I’m not gonna lie; I was semi-nervous at first that a gator would jump onto our boat and bite me.  Thankfully, that didn’t happen.  And now that I learned so much, I’d gladly observe them calmly and cooly from the boat anytime (not so sure I’d want to swim with them though…)

Best times for gator spotting:

The alligators hibernate in the cold winter months, so there is almost no chance of seeing them after Halloween.

Alligators love the warm weather, which is why you’ll see themselves sunning on rocks.  My kind of animal.  Exactly what I like to do as well.

Although gator spottings are much more frequent in warm temperatures, don’t be fooled in the month of July. Mating season occurs in may, and with a 65 day gestational period, you won’t be seeing any of these bad boys when their eggs hatch in July. They’re out and about in August, though.

Tips for a comfortable swamp tour experience:

Bring a winter jacket AND scarf if you plan on going in iffy weather (60 degrees and below). We were all ready to board the tour’s transportation to the swamp land, when the driver informed us that our clothing was hardly appropriate. We then had to run back up to our hotel room to get warmer clothing. Thankfully, the bus waited for us. Looking back, I cannot believe I almost did this in shorts… so be smarter than I was and…Wear Pants

Take some nausea medication beforehand if you have a weak stomach. The hydrofoil/airboat is a pretty bumpy ride, so prepare your belly ahead of time.

Bring a camera, but hold on to it tightly.

And a few more photos from our day for your viewing pleasure:

Have you ever been on a swamp tour?
Or seen an alligator in their natural habitat?
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9 Comments

  • Great post on Gators. We have both fresh water and salt water crocodiles in Australia – the 'salties' are particularly fearsome.Enjoying your A-Zs!KirstyFrog Blog – It's NOT a Holiday!

  • Trisha F says:

    I think all the dead animal bits would creep me out a bit. Then again I have a leather jacket hanging in my wardrobe… a gift I've never worn. hmmm. ^ Yup, I'm in Australia too :)

  • Commonweeder says:

    My daughter lives outside Houston in essentially a bayou area. I screamed when she said that occasionally there would be an alligator on the lawn, but she said she just called the housing office and they would come and take it away.

  • Marie says:

    Wow–this is fascinating stuff! We went to Gatorland once in Florida (kitschy touristy place), but that's about as close as I've ever gotten to a gator. You were brave! Did you buy a backscratcher? 😉 http://www.marie-everydaymiracle.blogspot.com

  • Anita Mac says:

    I did an alligator tour earlier this year and loved it! Did't try the hydrofoil boats. I think I must have lucked out – we had such warm weather, even in April, we were hot in the sunshine! Saw loads of alligators and some wild pigs…it was pretty cool!

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