If you want to see one of the area’s most intriguing inhabitants, the American alligator, you probably need to go only as far as the nearest fresh water or brackish lagoon.
Alligators go into a modified form of hibernation (estivation) during the winter, emerging in March when the winter “thaws.” Adult males will then establish their territory and emit loud roars, or “sing,” to attract females who, around June, build nests on the banks of lagoons and other fresh or brackish bodies of water. Females will lay an average of 30 eggs that will hatch in about two months. Hilton Head’s alligators grow to an average of ten to 14 feet.
Don’t get too close, and definitely do not feed them (it is actually illegal to feed an alligator). These critters can outrun humans and most other animals for a short distance, and when provoked, become aggressive. Mother alligators are especially protective if you approach their young. It is wise to stay away from the banks of lagoons and never fight over your fishing line if an alligator snags your catch.
To learn more about alligators, sign up for a one-hour guided alligator tour on the lakes within the Sea Pines Preserve aboard a canopied boat. A guide will detail facts about the wildlife and the surrounding area, with special focus on the American alligator and its behavior.