Go Gators! Rangers take visitors into the belly of the beast

gators topsail hill preserve state park

Park Ranger Chris Roberts presented an alligator program on a recent Friday to a group gathered at the Topsail Hill Preserve State Park clubhouse.

Molly Mosher | The Walton Sun
Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 03:46 PM.


One main difference between alligators and crocodiles is that alligators' teeth don't show when their mouths are closed. But you should never get close enough to tell, according to Topsail Hill State Park Ranger Chris Roberts.

"Give him his distance," said Roberts, adding that you'll want to make that distance about 20-25 feet as alligators can run up to 30 miles per hour. "Respect him and he'll respect you."

That advice, along with many other facts, were shared by Roberts at the park's interpretive program on alligators Jan. 11.

The American Alligator typically lives in the Southeast U.S., as well as in Central America and northwest South America. They are not uncommon in South Walton and can live in fresh and brackish waters, though they will normally stay away from the salt water of our Gulf.

At least four of these scaly reptiles live at Topsail Hill State Park, and it is important to remember that "Alligators are our neighbors," said Roberts.

This is especially important for those who have four-legged family members, as alligators are known to eat small house pets.

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