PIC OF THE MONTH


Crocodilian images which reveal fascinating stories told from a visual perspective.



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Don't Mind Me

American alligator lying atop another

It's a tough life being an alligator. Having to bask in the sun to warm up, for example - a challenging job, but alligators are up to the task! The biggest dilemma, though, is where to bask. Sure, you could bask on the ground like everyone else, but the alligator in this month's Pic of the Month from John White has found an elevated position!

Alligators and crocodiles will frequently lie on top of each other, both in the wild and in zoos and farms. Fortunately, both alligators seem comfortable with the arrangement for the time being. When alligators are comfortable, they flip their limbs backwards in a rather carefree manner, often stretching out their toes before they settle down. The aim of basking is to raise the body temperature up to their preferred level. Alligators are "cold blooded" - a rather inaccurate term for their physiology, because a basking alligator has very warm blood indeed. The term "ectothermic" is a better description, because they obtain their body heat from the sun. Mammals and birds are "warm blooded" or "endothermic" because they burn stored energy to create their own internal body heat. This would be a big disadvantage for an alligator, because it would mean having to constantly hunt for food. Just like mammals and birds have to do in fact. Alligators are much more economical with their energy reserves, meaning they can go for many months if necessary between meals. It seems that alligators have another good reason to keep smiling!


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