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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Alligators All Around

Air Date: Week of

An Alligator named Saul Bellows (photo: Mark Seth Lender)

Alligators are cold-blooded, but as Mark Seth Lender observed on a trip to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park in Florida, they can get pretty hot, come springtime.


CURWOOD: It's Living On Earth, I'm Steve Curwood. So the threat of a skewed sex ratio that climate change may bring to many turtle species would also apply to crocodiles and alligators. But as writer Mark Seth Lender found at St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park, at least for now, passion still rises in the blood - even when that blood is cold. 

Armed to the teeth (photo: Mark Seth Lender)

LENDER: Spring clings to the Spanish moss. Comes up from the swamp in sheaves of mist. It brings the nesting herons home. And raises the blood in an ancient’s bones.

Alligator swimming at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park (photo: Mark Seth Lender)

Breaking out.
Wake up from the wintery mud where they sleep alone. Slide into that swamp they call home. They stretch, halfway out of the water and expand their throats like over-stuffed pockets. And all around, that water starts to dance. Like spit on a griddle. Like ants in your pants. Like boiling oil. It doesn’t have a choice - the bigger the 'gator the deeper the voice.

Alligator tail (photo: Mark Seth Lender)

But down where the dancing starts it’s only silence humans can hear. I know. I’ve ducked my head below where a person ought not to go, and listened: the only thing that greets your ears is the scrape and the rake of alligator toes. Only another 'gator knows what all that dancing means...

An alligator rests her head on another’s back (photo: Mark Seth Lender)

She hears (what you can only see) and moves on over to the alligator of her dreams. Ignited by her cold-blooded heat he burns, and bellows all the more. Her emotions bulletproof, close to the vest, but when all is said and done she leans her head upon the leather-studded back above his massive chest. Completely still. You can barely see her breathe, or him.

Alligator eye (photo: Mark Seth Lender)

Possession is a two-way street when all the lovers are armed to the teeth!

(photo: Mark Seth Lender)

CURWOOD: Mark Seth Lender is the author of Salt Marsh Diary. To see some of his photos of alligators bellowing, sidle on over to our website, LOE.org.



Mark Seth Lender’s Website

St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park in Florida


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