In search of adventure? Join H2O’s Alligator and Wildlife Tour in the Forest Preserve to see if you can spot these creatures:
Alligators are plentiful on Hilton Head Island and live in freshwater. They can grow up to 15 feet long, weigh up to 1,000 pounds and can live up to 50 years in the wild. This apex predator will eat anything, alive or dead, it can get its jaws around. To determine the length of an alligator, count the inches between the nose bump and eye bump: that number translates into feet.
Great Blue Heron
This majestic bird lives in shallow waters. They can grow up to 4.5 feet tall with a 6.5 foot wingspan and live between 15-24 years. Their diet consists of fish, crustaceans, small reptiles, small rodents and insects. The Great Blue Heron helps keep the alligator population under control by eating freshly hatched baby gators.
Yellow-Bellied Pond Slider Turtle
These iconic Southern reptiles are known for their unmistakable, bright-yellow undersides. These turtles mainly eat plants, controlling the algae which blooms and grows on the ponds within the Forest Preserve. Capable of living up to 30 years in the wild, Yellow-Bellied Pond Sliders consistently lay eggs throughout the year.
This species is unmistakable with its iconic tuft of red hair adorning its crown and fiery red, almost Mohawk-like, feathers extending from the crown to the base of the neck and white slashes of feathers on its face. Many times, instead of seeing the Pileated Woodpecker, patrons hear the bird in the thickness of the forest persistently hammering away at trees looking for beetles, grubs and various other insects which make up its primary diet.
This majestic bird is a member of the raptor family and can be observed circling high above the water searching for prey. Osprey and humans have developed a symbiotic relationship on Hilton Head Island, and their numbers in the area are a testament to how both humans and animals can peacefully coexist. This is accomplished in a variety of ways, but most notable are the spaces and designated nesting sites built and carefully protected for use by the birds.
Snakes of Hilton Head
While there are many different species of snakes inhabiting Hilton Head Island, a few stand out. Species that draw the most attention and concern are venomous—copperheads, water moccasins (cottonmouths) and Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes. Many non-venomous species also live here. Examples include king snakes, corn snakes, rough green tree snakes and many others. These reptiles are a delicate link in the indigenous food chain and play a vital role in controlling rodent populations.
By Anthony R. Savarese
H2O Sports in Harbour Town is a great place to spark curiosity and inspire learning through adventure in all ages. To make reservations for the Alligator and Wildlife Tour or the Wine & Cheese Sunset Alligator Tour, please call 843-671-4386. For details on other water activities offered by H2O Sports, visit www.h2osports.com.