3. Alligators

Stop #3

The three man-made lagoons to the left of Bayou Petite Anse house many alligators and turtles. Please enjoy our alligators from a distance. These large reptiles are capable of moving very suddenly and very quickly for distances of up to thirty feet. Respect alligator space at all times. Some of our alligators are born and raised here in our waters and others have been farm-raised. However, by no means do we consider them to be tame. Please do not poke at them with a stick or bamboo stalks as this will only agitate them.

E. A. McIlhenny was among the first to note the manner in which the female built her nest, and discovered that even slight temperature changes within the nest could be quite consequential. Alligator breeding takes place in the spring months. When it is time to lay eggs, the female will dig a hole in the side of the bayou or slightly elevated portions of the marsh and cover it with mud and grass, creating a nest and safe incubator for her babies. If the temperature in the incubator is 90 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, the eggs will be male. If the temperature is 80 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, the eggs will be female. Some variations within the nest can occur.

In 1935, McIlhenny published The Alligator’s Life History which is still regarded by many herpetologists as the most accurate study of alligator behavior in the wild. Stop by our gift shop to view and purchase this book.