So we did some searching and found not only a place that allows gator holding but also offers an air-boat ride through the swamps of central Florida. Tom and Jerry's Airboat Tour is located on beautiful Lake Panasoffkee and the ride will take you through the spring fed creeks of the Withlacoochee River System. Riding the fast air-boats in January was a bit chilly but the sun was shining so that meant the Alligators would be out sunbathing. We saw at least 5 gators laying out in the marsh-like shallow areas of the river; basically their skin is a natural solar panel, keeping them warm enough in the winter months.
Not only did we see gators but many different Florida birds and one area of the tour known as Buzzard Bay. I have never in my life seen so many buzzards in one place. The water is very shallow in areas and as we toured mother nature's scenic swamps, you could see all the way down to the bottom. I was hoping a gator might come up out of the water, but maybe for the safety of everyone, that wouldn't be something to wish for.
Before taking the tour came the holding of the gator. This little cutie is named Pickles, was only 19 months old, and about 30 inches long. Pickles was only 5 inches long when he/she was born and I say "he/she" because you can not tell the sex of an alligator until they reach 24 months of age. I was the first to step up and take my chance. I don't say "hand over the baby" very often but that was my first thought! The most surprising thing about Pickles was how soft the skin was. I guess I expected scaly and rough but it was the complete opposite. They are pretty protective of their little critters so I had to pass him off to other people waiting, but I could have held Pickles for hours. I would have preferred that they had not taped his mouth closed, but I guess I understand why #gatorbait
If you haven't taken a ride on an air-boat tour before, I highly recommend it. This was my second experience and I would do it again! It's so much fun! And be sure to hold a gator, you won't regret it!
See Ya Later, Gator 🐊Shona
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