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Baby Gator. La Chua Trail, Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, Gainesville, Florida. 2013.
This little guy/gal is about 6 inches long and probably hatched around the beginning of September. He/she is part of a clutch of about 10-15 other babies. I counted 8 yesterday but I know there were others making noises in the weeds. They will live in the nest with their mother watching over them for about 3 years, but then she'll kick them out of the nest to make room for newbies. She will have babies of various ages around the nest at the same time, but there is only so much room. The stripes on the juveniles are very helpful for camouflage. The nests are at the waters edge and the strips let them blend right into the grasses and shadows.
Since a few people have expressed concern, I should let you all know that I took this from the safety of a raised boardwalk, with a telephoto lens. Mom was probably nearby, and I would NEVER get in the water near the babies, but I was totally safe. Thanks for looking out for me!
florida state parksfloridaalligatorprairiereptileJuvenileNature