ALLIGATOR BEHAVIOR page 6d: ON LAND; WALKING AND BASKING 4
This page was born 10/20/2006.  Rickubis designed it.  (such as it is.) Last update: 7/14/2015
Images and contents on this page copyright 2002-2015  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. 

On May 17, 2004, I'd taken a day off and had gone to BBSP. The Brazos River was possibly going to flood, due to heavy rainfall north and west. As I was at the park, water from Big Creek and the Brazos River was already starting to backflow
into the park. As a result of this, and the rain we'd already gotten, many of the small "islands" that the alligators had been basking on were under water. So, alligators and other animals were actively crossing the trails.

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                              THE TOWER GUARD                                                    TAIL SWISHING
The alligator above (TOWER GUARD) was directly across the trail. When I approached, it started towards 40 Acre Lake, on the right, then turned around and went back into Pilant Lake, to the left.  I'd heard an alligator headslap in 40 acre lake, and a little later, a large alligator was chasing around a smaller one, and generally showing agitation (tail swishing and chasing).
For a picture of this aggressive alligator, see TAIL SWISHING, above (or see this video clip 505kb). This was going on only about 12 feet from where the alligator was on the trail.

May 23, 2004 Not too far from Brazos Bend State Park is a golf course that I pass on the way home. Today, I looked at the water trap as I often do. I've spotted an alligator in there from time to time. This time, I noticed a medium-sized alligator-about 5 feet long, maybe-up on the bank of the trap. I drove past, then, decided to turn around and take a picture or two. I pulled off the road, and rolled down the window. As I inched the car forward to get a good position for a picture, the alligator opened its mouth. I reached for the camera, took it out of the case, and turned it on. While I was doing all this, the alligator got up and started high walking away from me! By the time I got the camera up and focused, the alligator had topped the high point and was heading back down (the pond is U-shaped and the alligator walked across the center.). Meanwhile, the golfers seemed oblivious to their spectator. The pictures below (NOT TIGER...ALLIGATOR, and  GOLFBALL RETRIEVER) shows the alligator after a few more steps. After this, it was out of sight on the rear of the bank. I don't think this is the sort of thing you'd expect at a golf course.
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                                  NOT TIGER--ALLIGATOR ON THE COURSE                                                 GOLFBALL RETRIEVER
December 12, 2004  Here it is, mid-December, and alligators are sunbathing in the park. In a few days, temperatures are supposed to drop to near freezing, though. I enjoyed the day even more with that in mind.
The RICKUBISCAM image shows one of many alligators that appeared on various banks and trails today.
The alligator in today's RICKUBISCAM is assumed to be the same one that ate the turtle Dec. 12 (see pictures below). I stayed near this alligator for quite some time. As I watched him (I assume it's male, for a number of reasons, but I can't be sure) he started to gape slightly. This is generally considered to be a heat-regulating behavior. From personal observation, I've learned that when an alligator begins gaping for long periods (10-15 minutes or longer), or closes its mouth, but immediately opens it again, then the alligator is soon headed for the water. This large one also followed this behavior, first by turning headfirst towards the water (body perpendicular to bank, instead of parallel as shown), and then, about 10 minutes later, slid into the water. While this big one (about 9 feet long or so) was gaping, I was able to get some good pictures. I'm using a camera with a 10x optical zoom...so I really wasn't very close. Do NOT ever approach an alligator.

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              HEAT EXCHANGE GAPE                                                           TEETH MISSING                                               NEW TEETH COMING OUT      

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                   GAPE FROM THE FRONT                                          NEW TEETH FROM FRONT
In the closeups, it's possible to see that many teeth are apparently missing. This could be from crushing the turtle's shell
last week. For an alligator, this is not a major disaster, because alligator teeth grow in a sort of nested stack. That is, an
exposed tooth has another tooth growing right underneath it; and the tip of this new tooth actually fits snugly into
the base of the outer tooth. When a tooth is knocked out, there is another one, ready to use, right underneath. In the closest
views, you can see the tips of the new teeth in the jaws. I show a single tooth, with a nested mate, in the three pictures below (see ALLIGATOR TEETH NESTED, TEETH TOGETHER, and SEPARATED). Notice how the bases of both teeth are hollow.
Also among the alligators enjoying the mild weather was a pod of babies near their mother. Unfortunately, this was during early afternoon, and the sun was so bright it was hard to get a decent picture. I did get this one, though of a baby alligator
a fairly safe position. See THE BABY RIDES, below right.

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            ALLIGATOR TEETH NESTED                     ALLIGATOR TEETH TOGETHER               ALLIGATOR TEETH SEPARATED                       THE BABY RIDES
December 26, 2004
  Yes. It is snow. Many of us in the area got to see snow and/or sleet in various quantities on Christmas Eve.  However, areas nearer the coast got a lot of snow. Brazos Bend State Park apparently recieved 5 inches of snow. For those of you that don't live here (like up in the "frozen North"--HA! How are you and your wife doing, Dylan?), please understand that the last time some of the affected areas saw snow of this magnitude was over TWENTY YEARS AGO! We don't get snow here.

I didn't go out to the park on Christmas day, when the snow was fresh, but there was some left for me to see Sunday.
The image below (WHITE STUFF!) shows the first bench I came to after I left the parking lot. The first image below (40ACRE ENTRANCE) shows the same bench from the other side.  When I got to the fork in the trail, I looked towards the parking lot, and took a picture of the sun shining through the haze. (see 40ACRE PARKING, below) At the edge of 40 Acre Lake, the bench at the end of the Hoot's Hollow trail had a lot of snow around it (see HOOT'S HOLLOW, below).

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                   WHITE STUFF!                  40ACRE TRAIL ENTRANCE      LOOKING AT 40ACRE PARKING   BENCH BY HOOT'S HOLLOW
As I walked towards the Observation Tower, I noticed a very slight skin of ice on parts of both Pilant and 40 Acre Lakes. When I got to the Observation Tower, I looked at the short wooden bridge, starting to compose a shot, when I caught movement off to my right. itOn the left side of the trail I saw snow. On the right side of the trail, near the bridge, I saw...AN ALLIGATOR! (See SNOW!? WHAT'S UP WITH THAT?, below) It was still cold enough for me to be bundled up, and here was this alligator swimming. There was no ice in the water there. Also, it moved quickly into the weeds, before I could even get another picture.  This was at about 9:00 am.

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             SNOW!? WHAT'S UP WITH THAT?                                  WHERE'RE MY PRESENTS?                                 MAYBE YOU DIDN'T HEAR ME
Later, I walked to New Horseshoe lake, where, at about 10:30, I saw a big alligator up on the bank. (see WHERE'RE MY PRESENTS?, and MAYBE YOU DIDN'T, above).  Any day I get to see alligators is a good one for me; and the last thing I expected to see at BBSP was snow and alligators on the same day.

FEBRUARY 20, 2005  What the heck....it's long past time for an alligator. So...here you go! I was looking at a small pod of baby alligators at Elm Lakewhen a park visitor came by. While I was talking about the babies, I kept hearing a crackling noise behind me. When I stopped talking to look, the noise stopped. Then I'd talk some more, and I'd hear a branch snap. Finally, I heard the noise, and looked, and an alligator was making its way up from Pilant Lake. I told the park visitor (from Wisconsin, if I recall correctly. I hope they enjoyed their visit.) that the alligator would most likely rest for about 5 minutes, and then cross the trail to Elm Lake.  So, the visitor sat on the bench to see what would happen.  I think it was closer to 10 minutes' rest, but the alligator did begin walking. The bench is actually at least 10 feet behind the alligator. I shot a few burst sequences. This is the first one. (see ONE STEP PART 1 to 5, below). I was able to note that the eye facing me was bad, with a brownish cast or covering apparent on it. I wasn't able to get a good closeup shot of this bad eye, though.

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                      ONE STEP PART 1                                                    ONE STEP PART 2                                                      ONE STEP PART 3

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                    ONE STEP PART 4                                                     ONE STEP PART 5
It got most of the way across the trail, took another brief rest, and then walked the rest of the way into Elm Lake. I had time to change to video mode on the camera and shot one clip. (See TO THE WATER, below).

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                        TO THE WATER!                                                              BABIES ON RICE                                                BABIES ON RICE CLOSER                                     OLDER SIBLINGS?
                     VIDEO CLIP  620KB
And what about the babies? Well, here they are. (see BABIES ON RICE, above). There was an alligator on the bank nearby, which everyone assumed was the mother. The day was overcast, with little sun, but the temperatures were in the 70's.  Look closely at the pictures of the baby alligators, and you will see quite a size difference between them. The smallest were probably hatched last year. The others, could be a year old, and some of the bigger ones could even be older!

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

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           Go back to the RICKUBISCAM page.
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