If you don't like alligators, then this post is going to totally suck for you.
Because last week, I took my in-laws to the Everglades Alligator Farm and took about a zillion photos...
Like this one.
If you're not familiar with the Greater Miami area, then I'll tell you a secret...we're basically in the Everglades.
What are the Everglades? Oh, just the ONLY ecosystem in the world where Alligators and Crocodiles both live. It's part gigantic swamp, part forest, part mosquito breeding grounds and you do not want to get lost in the middle of it.
Where we went was to the southernmost part of Miami - Florida City. The Everglades Alligator farm is about 15 minutes away from my house, and you can get park entrance and an airboat ride for 23.
If you take a trip down to the Everglades Alligator Farm, definitely get the entrance that includes an air boat ride. It's awesome.
While we waited for the Alligator
wrestling handling show to begin, we took a quick look around the Alligator Nesting area...
Which is a fancy way of saying THERE'S A LOT OF ALLIGATORS IN THIS PIT, FOLKS!!!!!
Now, I've been to the Everglades Alligator Farm a billion times. When my daughter was a toddler, we actually had a family annual membership and went every other weekend. My daughter had a slight obsession with alligators...I wonder where she got that from? But we hadn't been in a few years, because well, it is in a swamp area, and the mosquitoes are insatiable and one can only stand them for so long! With my in-laws coming from the desert of New Mexico, I knew that this was something that they'd really get a kick out of.
We got really lucky, and the weather was nice and cool and there wasn't a single mosquito in sight. I love February in Miami!
The pit, as I like to call it, in the front of the park, has the largest amount of alligators that are actually confined to one area. These are where all of the big boys reside - they keep the babies separated in either pins or (when they get bigger) different pits...so that the big boys don't eat them. I don't know exactly how many alligators there are in this area, but trust me, there are a lot!
We got there right before noon, which is feeding time. You can see that they are basically lined up, waiting to be fed! In previous years, the handlers would feed them whole chickens, but this time, they were fed rats.
On the way to the alligator handling show on Snake Island - called Snake Island because they do the snake show there - I practiced a little gator wrestling of my own...on this wooden alligator bench.
I totally kicked its ass.
My mother in law had a blast watching the alligator handling show, and even worked up the courage to hold a baby gator herself!
The alligator handler gave a pretty good show, but honestly, it didn't compare to the shows I've seen there in the past by the former handler, Travis. Travis actually wrestled the gators...
Back in the day, I was so impressed by Travis's alligator-wrestling abilities that I actually went on a date with him.
Shhh, don't tell my husband!
After the alligator show, we headed out on our air boat ride. Lasting about 15 minutes, the air boat ride takes you out of the park and into the Everglades to enjoy the scenery and to find more alligators in their wild habitat. We also saw a Blue Heron, crane and a few other birds that I can't remember the name of. I was afraid to pull my iPhone out much during the ride because our driver was a little feisty and kept splashing us. I did snap these two photos - I'm wearing headphones because it gets really, really loud on the air boat!
Don't worry, they provide the headphones!
After the air boat ride, we watched a snake handling show and the handlers allowed the guests to hold a baby ball python - the most laid back, non-violent snake in the world. Seriously. They are just naturally so tame that I've owned them off and on my entire life - I received one as a birthday present when I was 7, that's how tame they are - and I've never known anyone to be bitten by one!
Then I treated my in-laws to gator nuggets.
It's like chicken nuggets...but yes, you guessed it - they are made out of gator meat. I personally like alligator meat, I find it a little tangier than chicken, though my in-laws said it tasted the same to them. You can't buy alligator meat in stores, but there are certain places that serve it. I know from being friends with former employees of the Everglades Alligator Farm that they only serve alligator meat from alligators that have been so seriously injured in the pits that they have to be euthanized.
Then we went to see the grow out pens, where the baby alligators are kept. Aren't they cute?
The Everglades Alligator Farm is open 365 days a year - yes, even on holidays - from 9 am to 6 pm.
The snake show and alligator show run three times a day, and air boat rides leave 25 minutes after the hour, every hour. There is also an alligator feeding show at noon and 3 pm every day.
I love that there are bleachers set up for each show so that you don't have to stand!
Alligator Farm Entrance Only Child: $10.50 Adult: $15.50
Alligator Farm Shows & Air Boat Ride Child: $15.50 Adult: $23.00
There is also a Florida Panther on the premises, which is one of our endangered species. It's the only one that I know of in captivity, so of course I had to check it out while I was there. She was beautiful!