This part of the Gardens is an excellent place to view alligators, snakes and turtles. At one time McIlhenny had planned and excavated these man-made lagoons after the water gardens of Venice as a show place for his collection of native and exotic aquatic plants. Today these lagoons are home to some of our remarkable American alligators who love to submerge themselves in the fresh water or sun bathe on the banks. In general, the American alligator has four short legs, a broad, round snout, a long and powerful tail and a rough hide of scales. A fun fact is that their front legs have five toes while there back legs only have four toes.
American alligator adult males can grow up to 20 feet long and weigh up 1,000 pounds but the average adult male is about 11 feet long. Average adult females are approximately 8 feet. On January 2nd, 1890, McIlhenny shot the largest American alligator on record. The massive creature was 19.2 feet, or about 6 meters long. Because of its outrageous size, McIlhenny and his two hunting partners could not even pull it out of the marsh. A picture of McIlhenny and his record alligator’s hide can be viewed in the gift shop.
Here’s a little tid bit – one rule of thumb that comes close to determining the length of an alligator to estimate in inches the distance between its eyes to the end of its snout; every inch of the distance is almost equal to one foot of its body length.
Another striking thing, to look for along these lagoons, is a round clump of Bamboo, called Bambusa Tuldoides or Punting Pole Bamboo. This tightly clumped timber bamboo can easily grow up to 55’ tall and produce canes that are 2.25” in diameter. A large clump is located on the left approximately at the end of the last lagoon between the lagoon and the bayou road. Take a walk right into this hut-like bamboo structure and experience it from the inside.