Get excited about these amazing social creatures who are also sneaky predators, alligators are super interesting creatures and one of the largest lizards in the world. National Alligator Day is here to celebrate and show appreciation for these fascinating reptiles!
History of National Alligator Day
Some historians have stated that alligators can be traced back to tens of millions of years ago! And while there were no humans around to see them at the time, there were many species of this part of the lizard family called alligators. Now, though, they are made up of only two different species that remain, named after the places where they live: America and China. American alligators are often larger and heavier than the version found in China.
In the United States, the American Alligator, sometimes called “gators”, appears in a number of the southeastern region, including all throughout Florida and Louisiana as well as a number of other states including Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and all the way over to east Texas. In addition to the ones that roam free in various places throughout this region, some alligators are also raised commercially with products being made from their skin (boots, wallets, etc.) as well as their meat.
The name for the alligator may be an anglicized version of the Spanish term for lizard, which is “el lagarto.” And because the animal is native to the southern parts of the US, some of which were originally explored and settled by Spanish conquistadors, it makes sense that the name would come with these roots.
National Alligator Awareness Day is a fairly recent event that was founded in 2021 by the Wild Florida Safari Park. The purpose of the day is about raising awareness regarding the importance of not only alligators but all of the animal and plant life that co-exists in Florida’s ecosystem. And since alligators reside in all 67 of the state’s counties, they are a premier part of the landscape there.
Alligators have also become part of tourist attractions in several southeastern states, including Florida, with parks and tours where alligators and other reptiles are some of the main features. In fact, alligators are so popular in this state that the mascot for the University of Florida, located in Gainesville, is the Gator.
National Alligator Awareness Day offers a delightful opportunity for fans big and small to show appreciation for and celebrate the enticing elements of alligators.
How to Celebrate National Alligator Day
Find loads of fun and excitement in celebrating National Alligator Day by joining in on some delightful activities that are centered around these reptiles. Make some plans of your own or check out some of these ideas:
Learn Alligator Safety Etiquette
While alligators are not usually aggressive toward humans, they are still very powerful creatures that require some care when humans are around them. Some important factors are involved when people find themselves in the vicinity of alligators, including never feeding them so that they maintain their fear of humans.
Other sensible and best safety practices about alligators include:
Stay at least 50 feet away from an alligator because they are very fast runners – definitely faster than humans.
If an alligator is in the road, do not try to move it, attempt to scare it or throw things at it.
Avoid swimming in areas that are well known to be habitats for alligators.
Female alligators are very protective, so be especially careful not to disturb nests or very young alligators.
Visit an Alligator Park or Farm
Those folks who are interested in getting up close and personal with alligators might find that National Alligator Day is a great time to do it! These can be found in a number of different states in the southeastern portion of the US. And some of them may offer free or discounted admission to visitors in celebration of this day. Check out some of these fun parks that feature alligators:
- Gatorland in Orlando, Florida. With the tagline ‘Alligator Capital of the World’, Gatorland offers tons of opportunities for family fun while viewing some of the most amazing alligators.
- Everglades Alligator Farm in Homestead, Florida. At this alligator farm in the Everglades, visitors can join in on tours, airboat rides, shows and much more.
- Alligator Adventure in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. This park refers to itself as the ‘Reptile Capital of the World’, providing interactive exhibits, shows and many other attractions.
- Gator Country in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Visitors to this alligator park can wade with gators, enjoy a feeding show, handle alligators and other reptiles, and enjoy other activities.
Learn Fun Facts About Alligators
In honor of National Alligator Day, it might be fun to learn some fun and interesting bits of information about alligators so that it can then be shared to raise awareness for the day! Get started with some of these fascinating facts about alligators:
Alligators can go through around 3,000 teeth in their lifetime! As each tooth is worn down from use, it is replaced by new teeth.
Alligators need to swim in freshwater. Unlike crocodiles, these creatures don’t have the glands to excrete salt from their bodies, so they might be found near saltwater but not in it.
The largest alligator ever was more than 15 feet long and weighed more than 1000 pounds.
Before an alligator is born, its gender is determined by the temperature of the nest – if it is warm, then the alligator will be male and if it is cool then the babies will be female.
Watch Some Alligator Movies or Shows
Those who are looking for entertainment to share with friends or family might want to watch some movies that include alligators and crocodiles. For some reason, most of the moves that include or feature alligators and crocodiles are horror movies, so it might be a bit challenging to find some that aren’t scary. But for those who enjoy a good horror movie, National Alligator Day can be a good time to watch them!
National Alligator Day FAQs
What’s the difference between an alligator and a crocodile?
Alligators usually live in freshwater and have a broad, round nose while crocodiles prefer saltwater and have a more narrow, triangular nose.
What do alligators eat?
Young alligators survive on insects, amphibians and small fish, while adults eat snakes, turtles, small mammals, small birds, and rough fish.
How fast can an alligator run?
Alligators are extremely fast animals, whether on land or water, clocking up to 35mph on land or 20mph in water – but they also tire very quickly.
How long do alligators live?
An American alligator in the wild can live approximately 30-50 years, but in human care, they can live even longer – up to 80 years!
Where do alligators live?
American Alligators are native to the southeastern United States, including Florida and Louisiana as well as parts of Georgia, Alabama and several other states.