Alligators may not be colorful like herons, or be cute and small like green tree frogs. But the power, agility, and strong presence they display in the wild fascinate both locals and Everglades visitors alike. Taking an airboat eco tour, you can learn many interesting things about Everglades alligators. For now, here are a few things you might not know about these living dinosaurs.

They Can Jump… and Climb!

In addition to being nimble swimmers, alligators can jump six feet into the sir from a resting position! This leaping ability is mostly for ambushing prey near the water. But they can use it to grab onto tree branches and climb to their prey.

Having that much mobility could mean one of the most dangerous places to be is between an alligator and a meal. Don’t worry, though. They have a natural fear of people, which is fortunate because…

Alligators are Fast Runners

Alligators prefer to stay in or near water, and their strong tails help them swim at a speed of up to 20 to 30 miles per hour (MPH). But if they see a potential meal hanging out near the edge of the water, they can bolt after it on land. As big and heavy as they are, alligators are capable of moving in short bursts up to 15 MPH on land.

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The Sex of an Alligator is Determined by the Temperature of its Nest

Like some reptiles, the temperature of an alligator’s nest determines whether the alligators will be male or female. A temperature below 82.4 degrees Fahrenheit will produce females, and a temperature above 91.4 degrees Fahrenheit will produce males. An even number of both males and females will be produced if the temperature is near 87.8 degrees Fahrenheit.

They Help Maintain the Everglades Ecosystem

Despite their beastly hunting instincts and solitary nature, Everglades alligators give back to their community, whether they realize it nor not. In fact, that solitary nature helps other Everglades wildlife thrive.

When alligators make their homes, called alligator holes, they clear old vegetation away in the marsh. This makes room, for new growth after they abandon their dwelling. Abandoned alligator holes also serve as an oasis to birds and fish during the Everglades dry season, when water becomes scarce.

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Everglades alligators are not only the most iconic of all the animals here, but the most significant. While they are wild animals and formidable predators, their shyness around humans makes them perfectly safe to view on an Everglades airboat tour.

Just don’t feed them, or even your running shoes might not save you