I live in the northeast where there are, thankfully, no alligators (NYC sewer gators, notwithstanding) so when I come across them in my travels they always freak me out a little; it’s all that nature programming that shows them running with burst of speed at 30 MPH. Of course, I have seen them in Florida, but it took me completely by surprise that there are alligators in Texas. Call me naive.
I was walking along a boardwalk at Brazos Bend State Park when I noticed a cluster of folks blocking the trail. As I stepped around them, I glanced over to see what the fuss was about and there was an alligator sunning itself on the bank. gulp. I hustled along the path. By the time I had made the turn, I had seen several more in the water. Interestingly enough, the birds did not care about the them at all. There were flocks of Black-bellied Ducks standing on the bank, White Ibises picking in the shallows, American Pipits bobbing along the path. But the gators eat birds, right?
Fed up with the rain, I was heading back to the car along a path between two of the lakes, when I heard a tiger roar. Seriously. That is what it sounded like. A small pesky thought started bouncing around my head that it might be an alligator doing the bellowing. With adrelinin pumping I started to walk more briskly down the path. I fumbled in my pocket for the park map; I had noticed alligator etiquette tips on it. Here they are in case you are somewhere without helpful tips on a map.
- Do not annoy or feed the alligators
- Keep pets on a leash no longer than 6 feet. Do not throw objects in the water for your dog to retrieve
- Keep at least 30 feet from an alligator – do not assume they are slow-moving
- Do not swim or wade in the water
- If an alligator goes after a fish you have caught, cut the line and let the alligator have the fish
- Avoid any alligator sunning itself in the middle of the trail or lake bank
- Stay clear of grasses, twigs and/or soil near the side of a trail; it may be a nest and the mother alligator is probably close by guarding it.
- If an alligator opens its mouth and hisses, you have come to close. Retreat slowly, make no quick moves. Keep your eyes on the alligator.
Be careful out there.