The Gator and The Turtle

On a visit to Wakodahatchee Wetlands, I saw a small crowd gathered and approached to find everyone was looking at a fairly large (maybe 6-8 foot long) gator. But what really drew the crowd was that a turtle was sitting a few feet in front of the alligator. After a few minutes though, most of the crowd cleared out except for myself and two other people. And eventually, patience paid off with a rather interesting show.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get any decent photos with the whole gator and the turtle in the same shot, but here is the gator…

When I first arrived, the two were several feet away, but every time the turtle would try to take a few steps forward, the alligator would move closer as well.

Then the action really started and a battle of millennia of evolution played out right in front of us…

Eventually I realized several things about what was going on…

First, I am almost certain that this is a female alligator and we identified what looked like a nest nearby. I don’t know if the turtle was actually going to try raiding the nest to eat the eggs or if it was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I also don’t know if the gator was actually intending to eat the turtle because she never seemed to try biting down hard enough to crack the shell. She repeatedly dropped the turtle and would pick it back up, so maybe I’m wrong and she was indeed trying to get a good angle to break its shell, but it seemed more like she was just protecting the nest.

Eventually she dropped the turtle and it wandered away.

Another thing I didn’t notice the entire time I was there is that the alligator has no front legs, so I wonder if she was brought to the wetlands as a rescue, but it certainly shows that when it comes down to it, it is very easy to focus on one thing and miss little details. Though to be honest, I think any time you’re this close to this large of a gator, most people will focus mainly on that mouth!

I did return several more times hoping to see some hatchling gators, but no such luck. But each time, mum was still sitting right there guarding that nest.

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One thought on “The Gator and The Turtle

  1. Dusk

    September 10, 2021 at 2:52pm

    That’s crazy – I think you emit a wildlife attractant. You seem to always come across some pretty amazing wildlife interactions. And while gators have their moments, I’m Team Turtle here. Glad s/he made it out alive (for now).

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