Last spring I planned a trip to the Everglades National Park in an attempt to better understand the great American Alligator (alligator mississippiensis), a creature I have found to be particularly fascinating for most of my life. Equipped only with a thirst for knowledge, an emergency whistle and a digital camera, I began my excursion deep into the unknown.
The first few days were spent observing my subject. I was careful to remain distant in my attempt to witness these lizard-like wonders in their most natural of states, having been told by experts to always maintain a distance of at least 15 feet between myself and any alligator that I may come across. It was on the fourth day of my quest that events took an unexpected turn when I accidentally stumbled into a gator nest, and from the occurrences that ensued I have deduced the following:
1) Alligator courtship (exactly as it sounds) consists of a complex and varied sequence of snout-touching, bellowing, "coughing," back-rubbing, circling, bubble-blowing, and swimming together that can last for minutes or hours at a time, and is performed repeatedly.
2) My emergency whistle, much to my regret, sounded remarkably similar to the above mentioned bellowing.
3) Alligators can, and will, eat anything. I repeat, anything.