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The residents of Florida, which is home to over one million alligators, are no strangers to the apex predators. The massive animals are frequently encountered in swimming pools, ditches, and garages. In 2019, Palm Coast resident Donna Heiss even saw a 7-foot gator peeking through her window! However, the giant reptile recently spotted in Naples, Florida, impressed even the most jaded Floridians.
The approximately 10-foot-long alligator was seen lumbering toward a pond by the 17th hole at the Valencia Golf and Country Club on November 13, 2020. Tyler Stolting, a golf professional at the club who filmed the now-viral video, told The Post, “I was a little shocked, obviously. It was pretty big, biggest one I’ve ever seen!" However, alligators are a common sight at the golf course, and neither he, nor his colleague, Jeff Jones, are concerned about the predator's appearance. When asked if it posed any danger to golfers, Jones quipped, "As long as nobody is feeding him, they will be fine."
As if being home to alligators is not enough, Florida is the only place in the world to also harbor crocodiles. Though the two reptile species often get mixed up, they are very different and do not even belong to the same biological family. Alligators, which sport a dark blackish-gray color, dwell in freshwater habitats and have shorter, more rounded snouts. Thanks to a larger upper jaw, their teeth disappear when their mouths are closed.
Crocodiles, meanwhile, are equipped with special glands in their tongues that can excrete excess salt from their bodies, allowing them to live at sea for weeks. The olive-colored reptiles also have longer, sharper snouts and show their teeth even when their large jaws are shut. Adult crocodiles can grow up to 19 feet long — a full 5 feet more than alligators, which peak at about 14 feet.
Resources: NBCnews.com, NYPost.com, CNN.com