A family has sparked horror after making her children pose for a family photo with an alligator in the Florida Everglades. Two adults apparently spotted the animal resting beside the trail while walking with their three young daughters, and decided it was the perfect opportunity to grab some mementos, despite the children's (fully justified) nervousness.
A video of the impromptu photo shoot was captured by another walker, and shared online via infamous Instagram account TouronsOfNationalParks, which calls out bad behavior at sites of natural beauty throughout the US and around the world. These incidents often involve wildlife, such as people poking moose, chasing bears (while shirtless), and trying to pet bison.
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"Wow, just wow!" wrote one shocked commenter. "I live in Florida and they move lightening fast when they attack."
"Australian here," said another. "No way would i ever willingly go that close to an alligator (or crocodile in our case). Mouth open is usually a defensive pose."
As the National Park Service (NPS) explains, alligators are a keystone species in the Everglades ecosystem. Their nesting activities help create peat, the holes they dig serve as habitats for other creatures, and their nest burrows can act as miniature reservoirs after other wetland areas have dried out during droughts.
The opportunity to see alligators is one of the highlights of a trip to the Everglades, and attacks on humans are rare. They are usually caused by people attempting to feed them. As with most wild animals, the opportunity to grab an easy meal can overwhelm an alligator's natural wariness of humans, and it's always best to give them plenty of space.
They can be hard to spot, so keep an eye out for indentations in the muddy banks of lakes and rivers, created where alligators have rested or slid into the water. You may also hear them before you see them, particularly during mating season, which runs from around mid-April through May.
If an alligator gets too close for comfort, your best course of action is to run. They can move quite swiftly (around 10mph) but not for long, and tend to zig-zag rather than following in a straight line. In the unlikely event that you find yourself in the animal's jaws, fight back as much as possible, and when it tries to reposition its mouth, take the opportunity to free yourself.
For more advice, see our guide what to do if you see an alligator in Florida.
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Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.