Now, if you’ve read any of the reviews, you know that alligators play a big role in Black Diamond. Not to mention I collect gators (well, not real ones except for Boudreaux, who is sadly deceased). So I thought it might be fun to offer up some gator trivia today. See how many you get right and what surprises you. Put the number you get right (and anything that surprised you) in the comments section to be entered for a $5 Amazon gift card (or Book Depot for international readers).
- How many types of alligators are there in the world?
- Are alligators an endangered species?
- Which U.S. state has the most alligators?
- Which U.S. state has the most crocodiles?
- How is an alligator’s gender determined?
- Are alligators social or solitary?
- What’s the typical alligator’s response to a human adult?
- What makes an alligator be considered a “nuisance gator”?
- How long have alligators existed as a species?
- Why do alligators spin or roll when they have something in their mouths?
Ready? Got all those answers down? Here we go!
- There are only two types of alligators–the American Alligator and the Chinese Alligator. The Chinese Alligator is smaller than the American gator, which can live up to 70 years old. The largest American Alligator ever found was in Marsh Island, La., and measured just over 19 feet long and weighed more than 1,000 pounds. BIG BOY.
- The American Alligator was hunted to near extinction early this century and was placed on the endangered list. It is one of the country’s most successful revival stories. After decades of being off-limits, Louisiana began a statewide 30-day hunting season in 1981 to keep the rebounding population in check.
- Both Louisiana and Florida lay claim to the title, but the last figures I’ve found place Louisiana slightly ahead, with an estimated gator population of 2 million.
- Crocodiles are entirely different species despite their appearance to alligators; both are in the genus of crocodilians. In the United States, crocs can be found only in extreme South Florida, whereas alligators can be found throughout most of the Southeastern U.S. Even in Florida, crocodiles are relatively rare. How to tell a croc from a gator? A gator has a rounded snout, whereas a croc’s is more pointy.
- The temperature of the nest when the female gator lays her eggs determines whether the hatchlings are male or female since gators have no sex-determined chromosomes. The warmer the nest, the more likely the hatchlings will be male.
- Both. Big mature male “bull” gators are territorial and will kill and eat any smaller, weaker gators that venture too near. Mid-size and smaller gators will hang together, however.
- If a gator sees an adult human from the top of the water, he only sees a head-sized object and might consider it food. If he sees a full human torso, however, he’ll generally swim or slide away. Children and pets are another matter, although alligators are generally pretty lazy.
- Any gator that has been exposed to humans long enough to not fear them is considered a nuisance gator–people start feeding baby gators, which are awfully cute…until they get big enough to take an arm or leg. Gators begin to associate humans with food, and that’s a bad thing. A random gator in your backyard will be relocated and released in an uninhabited area; a gator who approaches humans for food will have to be destroyed or moved to a gator rescue facility if one is available. So don’t feed the gators!
- Gators predate dinosaurs, so whatever wiped out the dinos didn’t get the gators and other crocodilian species. About 200 million years, in other words.
- Gators have 72 teeth and a bite force of over 2,000 pounds per square inch. To put that in perspective, a human might muster 150-200 psi and a lion 1,000 psi. Lacking opposable thumbs, however, when a gator bites down on something it can’t swallow whole, it goes into the infamous “death roll,” eventually twisting off whatever it has bitten.
And yeah, gators do taste like chicken!
So, weigh in on the gators. How many answers did you get? The gender thing was my biggest surprise.