Florida Alligator Art
Andy often creates Florida alligator art. He uses recycled and re-purposed materials to create mixed media assemblage art. The alligator became the official state reptile of Florida in 1987, when Andy was 10 years old. A Florida resident since childhood, it's no surprise that Andy is inspired to create Florida alligator art.
American alligators are found in the southeast United States: all of Florida and Louisiana, the southern parts of Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, coastal South and North Carolina, Eastern Texas, the southeast corner of Oklahoma, and the southern tip of Arkansas.
American alligators live in freshwater environments, such as ponds, marshes, wetlands, rivers, lakes, and swamps, as well as in brackish environments. However, as if Shark Week didn't give you enough nightmares, an alligator was found playing in the surf on a South Walton beach in March 2009. Sweet dreams and happy swimming, friends!
Alligators are opportunistic feeders. Their diets include prey species that are abundant and easily accessible. Juvenile alligators eat primarily insects, amphibians, small fish, and other invertebrates. Adult alligators eat rough fish, snakes, turtles, small mammals, and birds. I'm guessing most adult alligators would also gladly eat you and your children, which is why they make terrible pets.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, female alligators rarely exceed 9 feet in length, but males can grow much larger. The Florida state record for length is a 14 foot 3-1/2 inch male from Lake Washington in Brevard County. The Florida record for weight is a 1,043 pound (13 feet 10-1/2 inches long) male from Orange Lake in Alachua County. And this is why I don't swim in lakes.
American alligators may live to about 50 years in the wild. After it is four feet long, an alligator is safe from predators except humans and occasionally other alligators. That's right, alligators display cannibalistic behavior. They don't play around, do they?
If you're in Destin or South Walton and want to see live alligators, I would not recommend hanging out in a swamp. Instead, visit Gator Beach at Fudpucker's in Destin. Gator Beach is a free alligator exhibit developed in May 2002 using the pond in front of Fudpucker's to house 80 live alligators. You can feed live alligators, have your photo taken with one, watch an educational show, and swim with the alligators. Just kidding! They don't let you swim with them and you'll probably get arrested if you try. But all that other stuff is true. While visiting Fudpucker's, be sure to check out their Down Under Bar, which Andy painted in early 2012. If you're lucky, you'll be seated at one of Andy's four alligator tables!