by Lesley Scott
Alligators lived and ruled the earth one hundred and fifty million years ago.
|Alligators have remained unchanged for one hundred and fifty million years and their tegument, or thick hide, makes an alligator difficult to kill. These huge reptiles mainly eat fish and small mammals, such as raccoons. Since Alligators will also eat almost anything, they will eat the young and hatchlings as a way of controlling population.
All reptiles, especially alligators, have instinctive magnetic homing. Therefore, the large ones will travel hundreds of miles making the trip back to where they were born. The younger alligators do well with relocation if they are six feet long or smaller.
When the South Carolina Department of Wildlife and Marine Resources started a policy several years ago, only alligators a certain size were relocated. The older reptiles were killed by crossbows and other weapons, skinned and butchered. The meat and hides went to the State of SC Department of Interior and auctioned off at the end of the year.
If that wasn't sad enough, is open season on our alligator population. With the proper permit, which nobody checks, is issued to the hunters. We now have a bunch of red necks out in the swamps shooting alligators. Though it is difficult and many of the red necks are injured, the hunt goes on and hundreds of large alligators die a horrible death. Being shot with a crossbow several times would be horribly painful to any animal, even an integument type hide.
What will happen to the alligator population in the future? Nobody knows for sure, but it could be catastrophic. It may be years before all of the large breeders will be killed. The smaller alligators become shy and reclusive, what few may be left. Who knows? One day, the alligators will be the size of an iguana.
These trigger happy hunters should have a size limit. They should not kill an alligator more than seven feet long. These smaller reptiles have a lovely colored skin with yellow and orange stripes and spots on a dark background. The meat is far more tender than a large alligator who could possibly be close to one hundred years old.
According to herpetologists at the Alligator Adventure in North Myrtle Beach, these animals will continue to grow and live past one hundred years. The rate of growth of a young alligator can be rapid, such as one to two inches a year or more. The growth rate slows after they are around ten feet long. There are cases of alligators measures as long as sixteen feet. Those are the ones we can measure. What's to say longer and older alligators are out there?
In 1976, "Charlie," an alligator enclosed by a fence at the Naval Weapons Station, was said to be fifty years old. It is 2012. Do the math. Don't these creatures deserve to live in respect? We are encroaching on their homes. We should try harder to live together. True, the more aggressive alligators should be dealt with properly by the authorities. But an unassuming alligator lounging around in a pond should be left alone. It is a shame that just one complaint can end that alligator's life for doing nothing wrong.
The pets eaten and people being attacked is a problem in Florida, with so many alligators in the state. Most of the people killed by alligators have ignored signs announcing their presence, feeding them and bothering them can evoke an attack. Also some alligators are overly aggressive to anything or anyone.
Last month two boys were attacked by an alligator, one lost his life the other boy lost his leg, someone told me. Also mentioned is that some drowning victims were actually grabbed and taken underwater by alligators. The "death roll" would drown a person easily. It can be dangerous to approach or tease, or feed these animals. They lose their mistrust of humans.
Lots of alligators are around, minus a few hundred large breeders. Time will tell the future of these modern day dinosaurs.