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petrini1 [userpic]

Surprise! Alligators vs. Raccoons

December 25th, 2011 (05:44 pm)

current mood: thankful

The Saturday Photo Hunt theme for this week is "Surprise." My first thought, given today's date, was to go for a photo of someone opening presents. But that seemed too easy. Then I remembered this confrontation I witnessed in a Louisiana swamp last summer.

A family of raccoons was foraging around, watching our boat from the shore. Suddenly, an alligator popped up out of the water and headed straight for the raccoons, with another alligator right behind. We feared we would witness a slaughter. But the alligators stopped. After their initial surprise, the raccoons remained calm and kept a watchful eye on the gators, maintaining a cushion of space between themselves and their predators at all times. We later learned that alligators won't strike if their view of the prey is even partially obstructed, even if it's just obstructed by reeds or bushes, and that they will wait patiently for a clear approach. In this case, they never got it. The raccoons remained on alert and eventually left the alligators behind to continue following us along the shore, climbing trees when necessary to stay out of reach.

Here's my photo, which I call "Confrontation":

(In honor of this photo, I'm changing my user pic for today to one of me holding a baby alligator on another trip to a Louisiana swamp.)