Amidst a turbulent hurricane season in Florida, life finds a way… especially when it involves a massive alligator.
An alligator’s casual walk went viral on Twitter Thursday morning, as the animal appears to be a behemoth. The reptile can be seen standing tall, poised on all fours while rain from hurricane Eta falls overhead. Paying no mind, the gator continues on the golf course green located in Naples, Florida. Some on Twitter called it fake, others were freaked out, and others still are responding with memes.
Herpetologist and Florida Central Zoo & Botanical Gardens CEO Dino Ferri said in an email that it’s hard to judge the gator’s actual size from the viral video and stills. However, the largest gator length-wise on record in Florida is 14 feet, 3-1/2 inches long—or about the size of your average car. Weight-wise, a record reptile came in at 1,043 pounds.
Regardless of size, it’s somewhat peculiar that the beast decided to roam during the storm, according to Ferri.
“As they are highly receptive to changes in pressure they are likely preparing to 'bed/hunker’ down as storms move in,” Ferri said. “Typically, alligators do not actively hunt/look for food (prey) during hurricanes.”
Whether the beast was hunting or not, it makes sense that the reptile was roaming where it was. Aside from Florida having more golf courses than any other state, the green is a favorable habitat for the predator, according to Ferri.
“Like most animals, they will typically be located in areas that are highly beneficial to them,” said Ferri. “Either due to resources in food as well as shelter.”
Ponds and lakes on golf courses provide ample amounts of water for gators. The areas also nest undisturbed prey like birds and fish. Unlike similar habitat in residential areas, golf courses are more hospitable to alligators. Basking near a sand trap won’t normally get animal control called on a beast unless they pose an immediate threat to humans, Orlando Weekly reports.
Although not listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as endangered, the organization does say the species is especially threatened by housing and residential developments. As with most animal populations, this forces animals into areas formally uninhabited by their kind (i.e. why more alligators may be seen on a golf course). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does list the American alligator as a threatened species.