everglades national park

How to Kill an Alligator in Everglades City

Mangrove Tunnel

Mangrove Tunnel in Everglades National Park

It is now possible for me to feel confident about the fact that I can actually be a useful companion if you and I were stranded in the middle of the Everglades with one bullet left in our rifle and suddenly attacked by an alligator. OK, not that I could accurately aim the rifle and fire it without knocking myself backwards into the water, thereby rendering my helpless body a tasty lunch for the alligator, but I could tell you where to aim.

Close Up Royal Gull

Royal Tern in Everglades National Park

Ah, but you might think, ho, ho, ho, you do not need to know where to hit the alligator because any place along the back would suffice, but that is not enough to kill an alligator; it’s just enough to piss him off. I call the creature a male instead of a female because the female has the good sense to be elsewhere when all of this attacking of humans is going on. Although, you would probably not be attacked if you were standing up, minding your own business and not messing with the alligator’s tail or otherwise infuriating the guy.


Osprey in Everglades National Park

I realize that you might think it’s OK to slice its belly or repeatedly stab the alligator in the belly with your belt buckle but you are missing one crucial element. You would need to get the alligator on its back for that to happen, and good luck doing that. Just for coming up with that idea, I am not going to spoil the story by telling precisely where to kill the alligator. I want to ensure that if we are ever stranded in the Everglades together, that I will not be abandoned. I have my worth in the Everglades now. I will protect that worth. It’s got a tangible value.

We toured more of Everglades National Park on Sunday in Everglades City, and we mostly putted around in a 6-passenger boat in the Mangroves. This visitor center is part of the Ten Thousand Islands, of which Marco Island is the largest. Our tour guide sounded just like the guy who stars in The Bridge and plays the former husband of Courteney Cox on Cougar Town. If I didn’t look at him, and I wasn’t because I was so busy shooting photos of birds, I could swear it was that guy, Brian Van Holt.

It’s the Florida accent.

Great Egret Mid Air

Great Egret in Everglades National Park

The Brazilian Peppers are not native to the Everglades and have encroached. They are squeezing out the Mangroves, which need sunlight to grow tall and time to build a strong root system. If the Mangroves are crowded, they will fall over into the water and die. You will see a lot of dead Mangroves, which is very sad. The photo above is of the Mangrove tunnel. We saw red, black and white Mangroves. The white trees are brown.

Inside the Mangrove tunnel we spotted alligators, great egrets, snowy egrets and blue herons. Those manatee are hard to spot because their noses pop up out of the water like a floating coconut and when they disappear beneath the surface, those relatives of the elephants can hold their breath for 20 minutes.


How Badly Do You Want to See Everglades National Park?

Alligator in Road“How badly do you want to see the Everglades?” the guard asked as my husband and I pulled into Everglades National Park at Shark Valley, Florida. In his hand, the guard stared at my Sapphire Preferred VISA. His eyes traveled to my driver’s license and back to mine. He asked again, batting those baby browns at me: “How badly do you want to see the Everglades?” My immediate thought was: Hey, my husband is sitting RIGHT IN FRONT of you. Right here. I was speechless. What kind of question was that? Who do you think is driving this Mustang? Look! I have a wedding ring on my finger.

I pulled my mind from the gutter.

When the National Park gate guard asked us a third time, I knew his question wasn’t directly specifically at me, even though it was. You look too young, says he. That’s because, as he readily pointed out, if we waited another year, we could get a lifetime pass for the $80 I had offered to spend for a one year National Park Pass. Turning 62 has its privileges, which I will sooner discover next summer. Not now.

The best way to see Everglades National Park is by tram. That way you can stop to see the wildlife without all the critters screaming for cover and hiding. Those airboats at tourist Everglade spots look inviting and are fun to ride, but they make so much noise that they pretty much scare away any kind of critter for miles around.

ALLIGATORWe shot photos of many alligators, tons of alligators, white ibis, anhinga, blue heron and even a praying mantis. I discovered the Everglades is not a swamp. It is a river. The Everglades is not a river of grass; it is a river of sedges. It moves 1/4 of a mile per day. It is a river 40 to 60 miles wide and more than 125 miles long. We also learned that the fastest an alligator can run is between 11 and 14 MPH, so when people tell you an alligator can run as fast as a racehorse, that’s laughable. But it doesn’t mean an alligator won’t attack if you put yourself in the position to be chomped.

They are also not green. If you spot a green alligator, it’s because the alligator has given up and is rotting. It is letting algae cover its body. Alligators look a lot like a piece of tire rubber that flew off a 16-wheeler semi and landed by the side of the road. Black. Or even gray. But not green. In fact, it’s very difficult to tell the difference between a piece of tire and an alligator when you’re speeding along the highway. Just trust me on this one.

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