June 26, 2016

Miami: feed alligators in the everglades!

This is a brilliant family activity – a visit to Everglades Alligator Farm to see their 2000 gators and a few snakes. Watch the shows, take a ride on an air boat and even feed the alligators. If you take the VIP tour you get to don surgical gloves and throw putrid chicken parts (or any other meat past its use-by date at Walmart. Honestly. See my video below and hear them grunt!)

Everglades Alligator Farm is an hour’s drive from Miami and we rented a car so we could be flexible with our day, and also to stop for a fresh fruit smoothie at the famous Robert Is Here fruit shop.

Robert is a legend and I was told we couldn’t miss his shop. We didn’t. Right on the corner where you turn off for the everglades and with his name emblazoned on the roof. It’s stocked full of fresh fruit, preserves and other goodies but the big draw is they make milkshakes and smoothies. Choose your fruit combo and off it goes to be blended. Banana passionfruit was divine, just FYI 😉

Roberts fruit smoothies

Surrounded by fresh fruit!

From here you’re only 10 minutes away and when we arrived we asked for Luke who was going to show us around.

It was 1pm, just in time for the snake show. The challenge was put out for anyone who had a fear of snakes. One poor girl was nominated by her caring friends and turned out to be a brave volunteer even allowing this constrictor to be draped around her.

Everglades Alligator Farm

Brave girl!

Then off we went with Luke to feed the gators in the pond. They keep them to a set male to female ratio and some of these guys and girls would be 40 years old.

Everglades Alligator Farm has contracts with local supermarkets to take their meat this is past its use-by date (did you know that when meat hits its use-by date, supermarkets either season it or cook up and still sell it?!)

Anyhoo, the meat that is past even that date gets fed into the grunting, hungry jaws of these monsters. Like a scene from a horror movie, I donned surgical gloves and Luke lifted the lid on smelly chicken parts, including feet. Mmmmm. They had already gathered en masse for feeding time.

Watch this video and hear them nash and grunt!

 

Alligators are cold blooded and pretty much wear body armour. So forget that little tip about poking them in the eye, they close their eye shields and you won’t get in there anyway.

They don’t need to eat much. About once a week on average in the wild. So a few chicken feet (most of which bounced off their hard heads and fell into the silty pond) are enough. They can even go up to two years without eating. Alligator diet anyone?

They also take a long time to grow. Ones that were about 20cm long are already several months, and these ones that I wasn’t so sure about holding, are around 1-2 years old.

We popped some quarters into the dispenser and out popped a handful of gater nuts which we tossed into their raising pens. You can do this whether on the VIP tour or not.

The air boat ride is a highlight!

Grab your ear muffs for that engine is loud, put your bags up on your lap for there will be water, and get ready to squeal! We started out with Nick our driver just tootling through the murky waters and spotted several wild alligators and a few brave iguanas (see point above about them not being hungry). Then off we went at full roar ending in 360˚ donuts. A brilliant way to spend 25 minutes.

Everglades Alligator Farm

Hurtling through the glades on an air boat

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You have two choices of admission ticket:

$27 ($19.50 for kids) gets you all the shows plus an air boat ride through the everglades at full speed and also slow enough to take photos of the wild alligators loitering like hand bags under the low hanging branches. This is a highlight.

Or $19.50 and $14.50 for kids gets you access to the park and all the shows, but no air boat ride. If you want the full VIP experience where you get to feed the alligators like I did and hold animals, that’s $249 pp.

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About Megan Singleton

Megan

Megan Singleton is a travel writer, blogger and radio correspondent. She's been gallivanting around the world telling stories for the last 16 years and has her suitcase always half packed (or half un-packed!) Follow along on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for monthly newsletters if you want to keep up with the journey!

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