MS State Reptile  LbNA # 61713

OwnerWisconsin Hiker      
Placed DateApr 14 2012
CountyJackson
LocationGautier, MS
Boxes1
Found By
Last Update

Clues

Last checked/found: 14-APR-12

Location: drapehS etatS kraP. 2012 Daily fee: $3/car
Time/Distance: ~30 minutes
Terrain: Rolling dirt/gravel trail through woods
Note: Beware of flying objects on this path, which is named in honor of the reptile!

Mississippi designated the American Alligator as the official state reptile in 2005. This alligator is native to the Southeastern United States.

Park near the playground and orienteering board. You should see 4 covered tables south of the parking area, go to the furthest west table and take the trail heading south.

Alligators live in rivers, lakes, ponds, swamps, bayous, and marshes. These reptiles are kind of clumsy on land, but they're built for life in the water. Great swimmers, they are equipped with webbed feet and strong tails that propel them through the water. They construct burrows, or "alligator holes" for shelter and hibernation. They are also known to find shelter in swimming pools during the dry months.

At a slab, take a left, then a right. Left to Valentine’s Day and then follow the arrow to the Ides of March.

After surviving nearly unchanged since the time of the dinosaurs, and having virtually no natural predators as adults today, alligators were headed for extinction only 20 years ago due to intense hunting from man. Protecting the species and alligator habitats has allowed their status to be changed from endangered to threatened.

Over a bridge, then take a right. Arrive at an “unlucky” spot.

An average male American alligator is 10 to 15 feet long. Half of its length is its massive, strong tail. An alligator can weigh as much as half a ton (1,000 pounds), but an average male weighs between 500 and 600 pounds. Females are usually smaller than males.

Head left down a hill. Cross a bridge and take a left at a bench.

Fish, turtles, snakes, and small mammals (sometimes even pets) are all on an alligator's favorite menu. They'll eat just about any meat—including animals that are already dead.

Arrive at a sandy dozen, but travel straight thru on triplet trail.

As big and ferocious as the female alligator may look, she is a gentle mother. A mother alligator makes a nest on shore, where she lays her eggs. Then she guards her eggs until they're ready to hatch. When the babies start to make noises as they break out of the eggs, their mother hears the peeps and then gently carries them in her mouth to the water nearby. Newly hatched young are only about 6-8 inches long, and very vulnerable. Their mother protects them from predators, which include raccoons, bobcats, birds, and even other alligators. The young alligators stay with their mother for up to two years. After that, they're able to fend for themselves.

Stop when you see a larger tree on the left and a birch/beech clump on the right. The mama alligator lurks behind the twin a bit further back on the right. Please rehide her well so she doesn’t get spotted by hunters with guns or bothered by other muggles.

Return to the sandy area, then head left. Head down to a pair of “lonely numbers” and cross a long bridge over the spot where the mama brought her babies.

In the wild, an American alligator generally lives to be 35 to 50 years old. Alligators can live longer, for 60 to 80 years, in captivity.

Take a right at a T, then a left at a clearing. Continue forward to return to an area you will recognize.

We do not live in the area, so we would greatly appreciate an email to let us know how the alligator is doing!