Monday, 23 December 2013

Sunny, chilly days reveal giant gators on La Chua Trail

It’s an alligator-eat-alligator world at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park — and on the La Chua Trail, the fittest have survived.

When the sun comes out on these chilly days, alligators can be seen basking all along the canal to Alachua Sink. And they are big, thanks — biologists theorize — to a drought a few years ago and cannibalism.

Yes, alligators will eat each other.

“They do look healthy — we’ve definitely observed that also,” park biologist Andi Christman said. “During that extended drought, there was some amount of alligator cannibalism. They naturally do eat smaller alligators — a 9-footer eating a 6-footer.”

The longest Florida alligator on record is 14 feet, 3½ inches from an Orlando-area lake, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The weight record is 1,043 pounds from a male captured in Orange Lake in Alachua County.

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