Tolerant Alligator

Close up photography of an American Alligator head in the Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia, USA. November 12, 2021. ©williamwisephoto.com

The tall tales told throughout the generations have made the American Alligator out to be a fearsome beast ready to spring out of a dark bog and drag you under to a watery grave. Granted, they are apex predators- and large ones at that! But after paddling nearby hundreds and hundreds of alligators, I have yet to be assailed by a gator. Their most common reaction to human presence is to head for water and submerge.

On occasion, some alligators will be quite tolerant of a close approach. This is particularly true in fall and early spring when the night air is chilly and the sun shines the following morning. No cold-blooded reptile can resist a good bask in the sun when the opportunity presents itself. Once they find a warm perch, they are quite hesitant to jump back into those cold waters. This presents an opportunity for some close up, detailed photographs. Focus in on individual scales, or perhaps a foot or claw. Shoot the epidermal ridges, or the details in the eye. Get close and zoom in.

Close up photography of an American Alligator foot and scales in the Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia, USA. November 12, 2021. ©williamwisephoto.com

But with that being said, don’t be stupid. The alligators laying around in the sun in parks and refuges aren’t tame animals. As with any animal, there is an invisible diameter around the critter that they don’t want you to enter. Push your luck, and you just might end up a part of a gator story or news article!


Paddling between Kingfisher Landing and Double Lakes; Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia.
– Sunny, high 75 F, low 46 F.
– Sunrise 6:54 AM; Sunset 5:32 PM
– Day length: 10 hours, 36 minutes (-1m 25s)
– Moon: 65% waxing gibbous

1 Comment

  1. Great close up perspective William. I have come in contact (well, let’s say saw to be correct) with a number of gators on my birding trips and I definitely concur that they have taken little concern in my presence and I respect their circle. Saw a huge one a few weeks ago in Port Aransas and was probably the first time I’ve ever seen one go any distance on land. Shuffled along maybe 100 feet throw a marsh and plopped itself down on a small island of grass. Went back in the morning and it had moved a solid 4 feet from that spot. Getting up close to them in a kayak would be different story for me as I run a lot better than I paddle ha!

    Liked by 1 person

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