Dependent Upon One Another

Winter is the dry season in the Everglades and water levels fall drastically. The "River of Grass" becomes dry as the knee-deep water disappears. The harsh effect of this seasonal change on native creatures is softened by the presence of alligators. Gators find natural depressions in the limestone bedrock and clear out the damp mud with their feet and their snouts as they wallow down deeper and deeper. In this way, small ponds are formed, typically ten to twenty feet across and a few feet deep. In addition to being moist habitats for gators, these pondlets provide life-giving water for a variety of animals including shrimp, small fish, snails, turtles, snakes and frogs. The presence of these aquatic creatures attracts many waterbirds, which come to feed, as well as raccoons, otters and bobcats that also visit the holes in search of drinking water. No doubt the gators gobble up a few of these uninvited guests, but most coexist with gators and thus survive the dry season. From the book, Florida's Fabulous Reptiles and Amphibians.

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