Alabama – Alligator Alley
When we travel, I try to find unique experiences that you can’t find in other locations. Alligator Alley, in Summerdale, Alabama, certainly fits the bill. You can’t go feed and hold alligators just anywhere. Summerdale, Alabama isn’t exactly a major metropolis, but it is within easy driving distance of Gulf Shores (about 30 minutes), Mobile (45 minutes), or Pensacola (< 1 hour) if you are vacationing in any of those places.
We visited Alligator Alley during the winter, which is not an ideal time. Alligators are less active when the temperature is cold. And it was rather cold that day. Nevertheless, it isn’t every day you can see alligators, so we visited anyway. Alligator Alley rescues alligators and has dozens of them, both big and small. The big ones sat there so still that you probably could have convinced me they were statues.
The major attraction at Alligator Alley is the feeding of these giant beasts, which happens three times a day.
Unfortunately for us, they don’t feed the alligators when the temperature is too cold, so we didn’t get to see it. My mother-in-law has seen the feeding and said it is really something to watch. However, there is a swamp area where you can feed other alligators. The food costs $4 a cup.
My only gripe with Alligator Alley is that I think $10 admission plus $4 for food is a steep price to pay when they aren’t doing the feeding demonstrations. The $10 admission would have been OK with me if they threw in a complimentary cup of food on days that are too cold for the feeding demonstrations. So, unless they change that policy, I would recommend waiting for a warm day if your schedule permits.
Wondering what you feed alligators? This sign tells you all the ingredients.
Once you’ve got your food, follow the path to the swamp.
Here are my kids at the entrance to the swamp with food in hand.
The swamp has a boardwalk with fences, making it a very safe way to view the alligators.
It took us a little while to find some hungry alligators, but once we did, we had great fun tossing food to them and watching them chomp it up.
Another alligator came up, giving the first alligator some competition for the food.
I just have to say it again. We really, really enjoyed this part! Even my 14-year-old son who wasn’t particularly crazy about this outing loved it. Here’s a close-up of one of the alligators.
The largest alligator at Alligator Alley is named Captain Crunch. He holds the world record for bite strength (2982 pounds), is 13 feet 2 inches long, and weighs over 800 pounds. He didn’t want to come say hello to us, so we were only able to read about him.
After that, we went to see the smaller, younger alligators. They were huddling together to keep warm.
The other really cool thing you can do at Alligator Alley is hold an alligator. The alligators they let you hold are about 3 years old. We were told that getting bit by one would feel like slamming your hand in a car door. But the strength of their bite is all in the chomping down, not in the opening back up of their jaw. So the staff members wrap the alligators mouths with electrical tape and that’s enough to keep their mouths shut while you hold them.
Usually I’m behind the camera, but I managed to get in front of it for a shot with a little alligator.
Here you can see a closer view of the mouth.
Do you think he’s cute and cuddly? My daughter seems to think so.
The gift shop sells lots and lots of different stuffed animal alligators. They also sell mounted alligator heads. I’m assuming these came from alligator farms that sell alligator meat. I’ve eaten Gator Bites before, but after looking at this cute little guy, I’m feeling a little guilty.
Have you ever pet or held an alligator? Tell us about it in the comments.
Ready to visit?
19500 Hwy 71
Open daily from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Children (4-12) -$8
Seniors (65+) -$8
Alligator food is $4 per cup