ALLIGATOR BEHAVIOR page 6c: ON LAND; WALKING AND BASKING 3
This page was born 04/24/2003.  Rickubis designed it.  (such as it is.) Last update:1/28/2017
Images and contents on this page copyright 2002-2017 Richard M. Dashnau  

Alligators although amphibious (not AMPHIBIANS) are in the water most of the time when they are active. Therefore it is worthy of note when they are on land, especially when they are doing more than just absorbing solar energy. Here is yet another page of terrestrial alligator antics.

May 18, 2003 A  couple of park visitors told me about an alligator that was up near the trail.  I went to with them, and helped them pass. And then I saw an alligator acting very oddly. When I first arrived, it was facing the water, and repeatedly opening and closing its jaws. (see SMILE FOR RICKUBIS, and THE SMILE, below; also video clip (366kb))
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        SMILE FOR RICKUBIS                                            THE SMILE                                          ITS BETTER SIDE?                       HOPE NO BIKES COME  


           STOMACH SCRATCH? 

As I walked around, taking pictures (my C-700 is back!) this alligator shifted position. Now, alligators sunning themselves will do this periodically, to alter their heat absorption surface in relation to the sun, to move into shade, and so on. From what I've seen, this shift in position only happens after long periods, and most basking is done with almost no movement (many park visitors have commented that they thought this or that alligator was "dead", since they move so infrequently while basking.). So, there are long times of stillness punctuated at irregular times by a shift in position.  This alligator, however, moved many times.
Anyway, this alligator moved and turned parallel to the trail (see ITS BETTER SIDE, above; or video clip (532kb)) Note how it just slides itself around. All through this, it would open and close its jaws.  After just a few minutes, it shifted again and slid UP ONTO THE TRAIL! (see HOPE NO BIKES, above). This all happened within a few minutes. I didn't make it back to my tripod-mounted video camera, partly because the alligator was between the camcorder and myself. I didn't want to get between the alligator and the water, and I began getting a feeling that something was wrong with the alligator.  So, I gave it room.  As I moved to get behind the alligator, and move towards my tripod, it slid the rest of the way across the trail (see STOMACH SCRATCH, above; or video clip (502kb)). The best I could do was shoot a quick video clip with the C-700.  I made it to the camcorder just as it pushed itself the rest of the way into Pilant Lake. As can be seen in the last clip, he never got up and walked. I hope this very odd behavior didn't indicate anything seriously wrong with it.

December 14, 2003  So, TODAY started out cold, but got a little milder until late afternoon. It was a nice, quiet day.  I caught this little (about 2 feet long) alligator sunning itself on the Creekfield bridge. It seemed to be comfortable enough. Not a bad to thing to be able to do in December! See the image below (DECEMBER SUNBATHING).

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                                                               DECEMBER SUNBATHING
Another interesting alligator observation. Park Naturalist David Heinicke told me today that sometime during the past week, he was out at the Observation Tower at 40 Acre Lake when a cold front blew through. He said that in a short time (about 20 minutes or so?--David, correct me if I'm wrong), he saw about 5 alligators of varying sizes cross the trail; moving from Pilant Lake into 40 Acre Lake. This was just in area he could see from the Observation Tower towards the first bend in the trail. He believes (and it sounds good to me) that the alligators were able to sense the pending drop in temperature and were moving en masse to 40 Acre Lake-which is deeper-ride out the cold weather. This may mean they have dens there, or that the deeper water is just more favorable. Pretty cool, eh?
By the way, I haven't neglected my buddies the alligators. I just haven't had a lot of material. They haven't been very active for some months, although I've still seen them from time to time.
I try to kindle the imagination with this page, and if I see something new, sometimes it ends up here. I find that spiders are quite diverse and interesting.  And, much easier to locate!  Coming up in the near future...snake stuff, and more spider trickery!

January 25, 2004  EXCELLENT weather today!  I didn't get out on the trails until the afternoon (Among other things, I was showing my alligator documentary in the Visitor's Center.  People seemed to like it. THAT IS SO COOL!)
Temperatures got near 70 degrees, and the sun stayed out.  Perfect alligator basking weather! The picture below (THRRE BY THE BRIDGE) shows three alligators that were near the end of the Spillway Bridge.  Before I saw those alligators though, I encountered a few more on the walk there.  About 20 paces from where the Elm Lake Trail starts, I saw this large alligator (see HEADS UP, below).  About 60 paces from this one,  I saw the female which I've shown before (Dec. 28 and after).  I passed another on the island across from pier #3. Then, along the Spillway Trail, there were two big ones visible on an island in Pilant Slough. About 15 paces further along, this REALLY big male was basking on one of the Pilant Lake islands (see ALLIGATOR ISLAND, below). This one had to be at least 12 feet long! He was HUGE!

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             THREE BY THE BRIDGE                                             HEADS UP                                       ALLIGATOR ISLAND

February 21 & 22, 2004  Saturday's weather was surprisingly warm, and lots of alligators took advantage of it. The image below (BIG ONE)shows a huge male on one of the Elm Lake islands. This great specimen was across from pier #2. I'm looking forward to the coming mating season, because I'd be surprised if *this* male isn't the dominant one near that island.
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                                                                            BIG ONE!
Hopefully he'll be keeping track of his territory, and *I* can be there to see it. There were more alligators visible, notably near the Spillway Bridge, where 3 large (at least 8 foot long) alligators were gathered on the Pilant Slough side (just like last week), and another on the Pilant Lake side (also like weeks before, but not the sickly gator. See (NO TROLLS, below). Saturday, the sick alligator was visible about 30 feet from the end of the bridge, in Pilant Lake, and on Sunday he was visible near the islands. At that time, I saw another large alligator about 15 feet from him.  Watching all the alligators, I had the feeling that I was seeing the first arrivals to the coming spring celebration. This could be an interesting spring!
One more alligator made an appearance that I think might be kind of special. I saw this one on Elm Lake-or actually, on land right near the Elm Lake trail-on the Pilant Lake leg of the trail (see WARRIOR RETURNS, below). He was lying in the same spot that a large alligator favored *last* year. I looked closely, trying to find a distinquishing mark I could recognize, and I might have found one: a scar on his lower jaw, under the hinge of his jaw. (see LOWER JAW SCAR, below). Compare that with *this* picture (see SAME ALLIGATOR?, below), taken almost exactly a year ago (COOL!), on Feb. 23, 2003 (also see more above on this page).  It sure looks like the same scar! No wonder this old guy seemed so quiet around me! We're old buddies!

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                  NO TROLLS UNDER *THIS* BRIDGE                               THE WARRIOR RETURNS!                                                 LOWER JAW SCAR                                           SAME ALLIGATOR? 2003

February 29, 2004  Today's weather was overcast and rainy, but some alligators came out anyway. After checking on a female alligator and some babies, I was visiting the "Old Warrior" again, in his spot by the Elm Lake Trail, when the alligators started bellowing! OH, EXCELLENT!  This was at about 11:20, and the bellowing lasted until about 11:35.  Alligators seemed to be bellowing in Elm Lake, in Pilant Lake, and in Pilant Slough. I couldn't tell if any were bellowing in 40 Acre Lake, I was too far away to tell. I probably would have heard them from where I was standing, but there were others closer, so I can't be sure. I know that people standing at Hoot's Hollow trail heard them, and that is right at the edge of 40 Acre Lake.

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                  LADY BY THE TRAIL                                   LADY CLOSE UP
One more of my old alligator friends made an appearance. She appeared on the Spillway Trail, right before the Spillway Bridge (see LADY BY THE TRAIL, and LADY CLOSE UP, above). This is a large female that usually nests on one of the small islands in Pilant Lake across from where she was on the trail. The water level is high in Pilant Lake, and her islands were submerged. So, she came to our side of the lake. I've seen her before, (see this page, the picture "TOUGH MOM".), and I didn't notice any young ones with her this time. I recognize her mostly from her injured left eye (see LEFT PROFILE, and BAD EYE, below).  I also noticed that she's missing teeth on the left side of her jaw (see MISSING TEETH, below). Compare this to the right side of her face (see RIGHT PROFILE, below), which looks fine. Evidently male alligators still find her attractive, or they did last year. Maybe we'll see if she successfully nests *this* year.
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                               LEFT PROFILE                                                              BAD EYE                                                            MISSING TEETH                                                      RIGHT PROFILE

March 07, 2004  Today also had a few other highlights. I got to see my first alligator trail crossing for the year. I was watching a medium- sized alligator (about 6 feet long) in the water. It was showing the readiness posture, with the tail arched and the back and head high in the water. Directly in front of this alligator was another, a few feet longer. This second alligator was lying across a log (about 2 body-lengths away), and was facing directly AWAY from the tail-arching alligator. After a few minutes of being ignored, the smaller alligator turned towards the trail (this was on the Spillway Trail), and after about 10 minutes, walked up to the trail (see UPHILL CLIMB, below and video clip (flv video 500kb). It stopped and rested for a few more minutes, then started towards the other side, before stopping at the edge (see MORNING STROLL, below and video clip (flv video 381kb). It stopped with its entire length crossing the trail (although it was only 6 feet long, this still was an obstruction), so I asked it to move. It agreed to go, and slowly moved into the water.
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                   UPHILL CLIMB                                                    MORNING STROLL
As it was moving down the bank, two regular visitors to the park were coming down the trail on their bicycles. As one of them asked about the alligator, the other one stopped and called out, "The otter's over here."
WHAT!? The otter? So, I grabbed my tripod and video camera and ran down to where I caught a glimpse of the otter. As we were standing there, one of the other volunteers, Dylan (who had been filming the alligator) walked over and casually shot about 15 seconds of otter footage. I couldn't get a clear enough view, and so I missed my opportunity.  Rats....
Later, I got to see the footage Dylan shot, and it was excellent.

March 29, 2004  The image below (CAUTION:ALLIGATORS) shows an excellent specimen of a large alligator after it has just crossed the street near Elm Lake.
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                                                                               CAUTION:ALLIGATORS
This was near the end of trek that took around an hour. I entered this story Sunday morning, as I was driving towards Elm Lake to start my walk. I hadn't gotten there yet, when a park visitor flagged me down, and told me about a large alligator that was near the road. It certainly was! Not only that, but it was on the Big Creek side of the main road. That is, it was away from our lakes. I knew that he wouldn't want to stay there, so I pulled over and put on my car's hazard flashers. I didn't want a park visitor to run this alligator over when it tried to cross the street (and I knew that it would), so I decided to wait for him.  First, I went near him and asked him to move, but he wasn't having any of that, so I just went up to my car, got my camera, and waited. He eventually started moving. He walked about 20 steps-parallel to the road-and then stopped. He did this a few times, while I decided to set up my video camera. Every time I'd reach for it, though, he'd start moving again. Finally, he turned and walked towards the road, where he rested one more time.  Somewhere in there, I got my video camera set up.
Finally, he crossed.  As he crossed the the pavement, I heard a kind of clacking sound, which might have been his nails hitting the hard surface. I was able to get some good pictures, and this one (NO PASSING LANE, below) shows his length compared to the distance from the edge to the center line of the road.  The next picture (CAUTION, ALLGATORS, below) is the same one I used for the RICKUBISCAM this week. ( I just cropped a section of the original image for the RICKUBISCAM.) I didn't compose the photo that way, I just got lucky. Remember, while I was trying to shoot video, *and* photographs, I was also watching out for park visitors' cars and trucks coming from either direction. There was NO way I intended to film this big guy getting killed by a car!  He continued walking in that steady, slow pace, and moved down the bank (see SAFELY ACROSS, below) until he turned slightly and walked up and crossed the Elm Lake Trail--passing right near one of our "Gator Etiquette" signs and the first bench. (see GATOR ETIQUETTE, below).

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                  LOOKING BOTH WAYS                                                    NO PASSING LANE                                              CAUTION, ALLIGATORS                                            SAFELY ACROSS         

 
           ALLIGATOR ETIQUETTE SIGN

YOU CAN SEE VIDEO CLIPS OF THE CROSSING BELOW! THE IMAGES BELOW ARE FRAMES FROM EACH CLIP. CLICK THE LINKS UNDER THE PICTURERS TO SEE THE CLIPS.
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                      VIDEO CLIP 1                                                                VIDEO CLIP 2                                                          VIDEO CLIP 3                                                         VIDEO CLIP 4      
                 ALONG THE ROAD                                                                 SIT, BOY!                                                         CROSSING THE ROAD                                      AT THE INTERSECTION         


                VIDEO CLIP 5          
         PASSING THE BENCH

Since he was out of danger, I was able to walk to the lake, where I saw him swim slowly towards a smaller alligator. This smaller alligator, in the water by an island, took the "tail arch" alertness posture as this big male slowly approached.  The smaller alligator then relaxed its pose, ans slowly swam out, *very* close to the large alligator (it may have actually taken a submerged step on it) and moved out as the large alligator moved in to the spot where the small alligator *had* been. I got just a piece of this on video, as I had to walk back to get the camera, set it up, then walked all the way back to my car on the road, and moved it. This was the farthest I've ever seen an alligator walk and yes; I enjoyed the experience!
Not long after this, I encountered another large alligator (not as big as this one) on the Spillway Trail, but that's a story for another time.

If you'd like to know more about the park follow these links:

Brazos Bend State Park   The main page.

Brazos Bend State Park Volunteer's Page  The volunteer's main page.
 

Here are a few links to more information on alligators. There's a LOT of it out there.

   Crocodilian.com

    Adam Britton's Pages 1

    Adam Britton's Pages 2

    Fish and Wildlife Page (Text)

    Fish and Wildlife Endangered Species

Here are my "alligator behavior" pages:

SOCIAL INTERACTIONCONFLICT AND CANNIBALISMFEEDINGBABY ALLIGATORSALLIGATOR DENSALLIGATORS ON LANDFOSSIL CROCS
SIGNALS 1CONFLICT 1FEEDING 1BABIES 1DENS 1ON LAND 1FOSSILS 1
SIGNALS 2CONFLICT 2FEEDING 2BABIES 2ON LAND 2
SIGNALS 3CONFLICT 3FEEDING 3BABIES 3ON LAND 3
SIGNALS 4FEEDING 4BABIES 4ON LAND 4
SIGNALS 5FEEDING 5BABIES 5ON LAND 5
SIGNALS 6FEEDING 6BABIES 6ON LAND 6
SIGNALS 7
ON LAND 7
SIGNALS 8

And, this page shows alligators at the park, on land, near various landmarks at the park.

           Go back to my main alligator page, Alligators

           Go back to my home page, Welcome to rickubis.com
           Go back to the RICKUBISCAM page.
           Go back to the See the World page.