Our family just returned from a vacation in Florida. We always try to make vacations a learning experience, and this one was no exception!
Because of the animal lover that resides in my house, much of our field trips and vacations seem to center around God’s land, sea, and air creatures. I’ve already shared with you a little about our visit to meet Winter the Dolphin and to the Key West Butterfly Conservatory. Today, we will head into the Everglades for a peek at the alligator.
We were excited that our friends who live in SW Florida were able to join us! We spent the day exploring the water near the visitor’s center at Shark Valley, a part of Everglades National Park, took a hike, and then boarded a tram for a trip right into the everglades!
The alligator is the keeper of the Everglades. Because this area of Florida basically has 2 seasons — rainy and dry — the alligator plays a vital role in the survival of most all of the animals living in this ecosystem. Do you know why? I’ll give you a hint . . . it’s currently the dry season. See how dry everything looks? It’s hard for birds, amphibians and reptiles to survive when it’s so dry . . . there’s just not much water to drink.
But take a look here. This is an alligator hole. During the rainy season, alligators dig these incredible holes that fill with water — enough water to stay alive during the dry season.
These alligator holes become a refuge for all kinds of Everglades wildlife — birds, turtles, lizards, snakes, frogs, fish, and snails. Of course, these animals also become prey for the hungry alligator, as well as wading birds.
Everywhere we went at Shark Valley, we were met with alligators. Everywhere! They don’t seem to be fazed much by all the people around. I suppose they are used to tourists gawking and taking pictures. It was still a little unsettling to me how close we were to them. Supposedly, they give a warning growl before they lunge though. I think that little tidbit of info from the tour guide was supposed to make us feel better. Amazingly, that didn’t really make me feel any safer.
Maybe if they were cuter. Like a panda or something. I don’t know.
Anyway, while I couldn’t find much about the alligator that is pretty to look at, I do have immense respect for what they do to keep the Everglades alive. Without them, the other more beautiful creatures residing there would not survive. Like the beautiful birds.
Be sure to also take a peek at Birds of the Everglades.
If you’d like to learn more about the alligator, here are few ideas for you.
National Geographic: Alligators and Crocodiles
Here’s a free Crocodilians Lapbook from Homeschool Share, and an alligator unit study.
Great ideas for alligator crafts.