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The Everglades: Lions and Tigers and… Alligators, Oh My!

By August 3, 2015October 17th, 2017No Comments

Kids with everglades boats and alligators in florida

Grab some earplugs and a sturdy boots before heading to Homestead, Florida. Between the blaring whirl of the air boats zipping through nearby marshes—a sound that will be all too familiar by the end of the day—and the damp, swampy grounds of southern Florida, you will want to be prepared as you begin your adventure at the Everglades Alligator Farm.

Gliding on air

Okay, so you won’t find any lions or tigers at the oldest alligator farm in southern Florida, but you will find plenty of other creatures. The farm, which is less than an hour away from Miami, is home to more than 2,000 gators as well as a variety of snakes and crocodiles.

One of the best ways to see the alligators is in the wild. Hop aboard a flat-bottomed airboat to explore their natural everglades habitat. Double-check your toddlers’ earplugs so their eardrums aren’t damaged from the blaring engine noise. Once the boat takes off, you will be gliding through the saw grass marshes and mangrove trees that flourish in the subtropical climate. As the boat soars through the water, droplets will tickle your toddler’s skin resulting in gleeful laughter and a refreshing sensation in the Florida heat. Your little one will have a blast trying to spot the gators swimming around the boat. Make it into a game and keep count to see how many you spot while out on the water.

Up close and personal

Once back on dry land, there are plenty of other things to delight your toddler. The Alligator Show will teach visitors all about gators—from their growth patterns and their physical structure to the best ways to get away if you’re being chased by one (zig zag!). At the end of the show, the host will take out a baby alligator and pass it around.

If your little one is timid and a little too frightened to hold it on their own, see if they will pet it while you are holding it. Similarly, there is a Snake Show, where a snake is passed around. See if your little one will let you put it on his shoulders—it’s a great opportunity to take some photos. The show will teach your toddler the kinds of snakes to be wary of and why it is dangerous to bring new species into an existing habitat.

alligators in the everglades, florida

Possibly the most popular show at the Everglades Alligator Farm is the Alligator Feeding at the breeding pond.

Some toddlers will be disgusted and others will be fascinated as they watch over 500 giant gators climb over one another and compete to get a hold of the rats the trainer drops into their cage. The trainer will also discuss how often the alligators are fed, how much they typically eat and what they are fed. It is a unique experience to say the least and whether your child is disgusted or fascinated, he will be talking about it for days.

As the day ends

Finally, visit the section of the farm where a line of cages shows the various stages of the gators’ development. Starting with the babies, each cage holds progressively larger animals until you reach the full-grown adult alligators. End your day with an ice cream cone, a stroll along the trail that circles the swamp and drop by the gift shop for a wide array of gator-themed souvenirs.

If you want to keep the swampy fun going, follow your day at the gator farm with a trip to the subtropical Everglades National Park, which is also located in Homestead. The Everglades are home to other extraordinary creatures like manatees, eagles and panthers, all of which will thrill your toddlers just as much as the alligator farm.

 

Ashley Ryan

Author Ashley Ryan

Ashley Ryan is a southern California native with a background in journalism and anthropology. She loves learning about other cultures and combines her passions for traveling, writing and photography in her professional work. To learn more or get in touch, visit facebook.com/rooftopsandflipflops

More posts by Ashley Ryan

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