Within the bountiful marshes and swamps of Southwest Louisiana resides a beast. Broad of face , with a flat, round snout, this predator feeds on fish, frogs, snakes, turtles, birds, and mammals.
Along the roads that traverse the marshlands, warm, sunny days bode well for sightings of an American alligator, which derives its name from the Spanish el lagarto, or "the lizard." Ranging in length up to 14 feet, alligators can readily be seen lounging on land or drifting along on a slowly moving current.
The alligator may seem slow and ungainly, but it can jump with a burst of speed. If you happen upon a resting gator, don't be deceived by its calm demeanor. A 12 foot alligator can snap its jaws with a crushing 2,115 pounds of force. Yet as vicious as this reptile can be, it fascinates visitors and residents alike.
For your own safety:
- Do not feed, tease, prod or otherwise provoke the gators.
- Keep your distance.
- Treat them with respect.
- Keep your pet on a leash.
Don't confuse these kings of the marsh with crocodiles. Learn the difference between gators and crocs.