Don't Mess with Alligators in Texas!
Alligators Spotted in Houston Area
On the nightly news it was recently reported that an alligator located in Cinco Ranch in Katy, Texas which is about 5 miles from where we live in Houston was just captured and will be relocated to a wildlife ranch to live out its days.
Kids reportedly had been throwing rocks at it in a pond. Killing an alligator in Texas is a felony and bothering them could land one a $500 fine. Supposedly some people had been feeding it which is certainly discouraged!
Many of the new homes are built around retention ponds in our area of Houston, Texas and the surrounding lands. It is so flat here and those retention ponds are necessary to be a safeguard against heavy rains to keep the homes and businesses from flooding.
Alligators are deemed necessary to keep the balance of nature in check as they eat snakes and other small critters which could otherwise get out of hand.
When my aunt and uncle lived in Florida they had to be concerned with watching their dog if left out in the yard because of resident alligators in nearby ponds. Supposedly when they reached a certain size when they would have become more aggressive they would be relocated. Still it was of concern and they always kept an eye on their pet.
When my mother and I visited several state parks in Florida there were signs up warning of possible alligators.
Obviously alligators have a right to live but people should take reasonable precautions so that the balance of nature can be kept intact.
There is an interesting PBS documentary video related to not only alligators but also crocodiles below.
Do you have to be concerned with alligators where you live?
Waterfront Living in Houston
In Houston we have many bayous running through our city and also many retention ponds continually being built to hold excess rain and runoff. These dredged out ponds come in all sizes from small to large.
In many of the new subdivisions the waterfront homes are more expensive than those further back in the subdivision. That makes sense! Waterfront property everywhere whether it is ocean, river or lake is generally always more expensive worldwide.
The views can be quite pretty and often they have fountains in the center so as to keep the water moving and keep it from becoming stagnant.
Ducks and other water birds are often spotted.
Whenever an alligator somehow wanders into one of these small lake-like ponds, people need to stay alert not only for themselves but for small children and pets.
The photo shown below was taken just last weekend in a local park where lakes had been created in the prairie in the northwestern part of Harris County. We did not see any alligators but that is no assurance that they do not exist there. A large alligator can hide in as little as one foot of water and not be seen if the water is murky!
The official name of the American alligator is Alligator Mississippiensis.
Most of the American alligators in Texas reach from five to six feet in length on average from what I have read. However elsewhere they can get much larger than that. Males grow larger than females and can attain ten feet in length or even larger. Some surprisingly large specimens have been found in places.
If they ever get into areas where they could be a danger to people they are often captured and removed to a more natural area where they can live out their lives just as the ones in Florida were where my aunt and uncle used to live for part of the year.
See how the alligator was removed in this video:
Only experts who know how to deal with capturing alligators should be called upon to help. In Texas the people to call would be the Texas Parks and Wildlife or one's local game warden.
This demonstrates the danger of alligators if not taking prudent precautions.
Alligator Terrain in Texas
If you can imagine drawing an imaginary line in the State of Texas on a diagonal slanting from left at the bottom to the right at the top it would look like this for the most part.
Starting in the Rio Grande Valley and progressing up to Laredo and then to San Antonio and Austin it would go through Waco and Dallas ending at the Louisiana border. There are a few other areas but primarily alligators are found in these areas with higher concentrations of them near the Texas coastline.
Alligator Facts and Information
- Did you know that alligators are hatched from eggs just as birds are hatched from eggs? Both birds and alligators when ready to break open that protective shell do so with what is referred to as an "egg tooth." In the case of birds, the parent birds spend time sitting on the eggs to keep them warm. In the case of alligators, the eggs are buried in a mound and the dirt and vegetation compressed over the eggs are warmed by the earth and sun until time for hatching.
- A "pod" is the name for a group of hatched alligators. A pod is also defined as a seed vessel like that of a bean or pea. Those who watch science fiction movies would be familiar with self contained units called pods which can also be detached from a spaceship and operate independently. So there are several meanings for the word pod.
- According to the San Diego Zoo an alligator in the water can swim up to a speed of around 20 miles per hour. On land that speed drops to 11 miles per hour or so. Unless prey is very near waters edge, most of the prey for alligators is caught in the water.
- As an alligator matures and grows larger the preferred diet of things consumed grows larger right along with it. In the beginning a baby alligator will eat insects, minnows and the like. Larger alligators move on to larger objects such as birds, turtles, snakes, fish, etc. Deer and other larger animals that may be drinking water can become ensnared and eaten.
- Going back to the 1960s alligators were on the endangered species list and were thought to become extinct. With protective measures in place they have made a remarkable resurgence and are no longer endangered. In fact here is now an open season in Texas where alligators may be hunted in order to help keep them in balance with nature. A valid hunting license must be secured and the limit per person is one per season.
- When in water often what one will see are the eyes and nostrils of the alligator above water with the rest of the body below the surface. They can hold their breath under water for quite some time.
Always heed signs warning of alligators!
Up until July of 2015 no humans in Texas had ever been killed by alligators. That changed when a 28 year old man jumped in the water despite a "No Swimming Alligators" sign. He was immediately attacked and lost his life.
- Alligators are known to be territorial.
The alligator was eventually caught and killed. It was sad for the young man and his family and it is equally sad for the alligator who was just acting as alligators do when hungry or threatened.
Did you know all of this information about alligators?
© 2016 Peggy Woods