A travel blogger in Florida captured something he’d never seen before in Tampa on Monday: a turtle riding on the back of an alligator.
Jef Henninger posted a photo of the strange encounter on his Facebook page, Traveling with Jef.
“You know you’re in #florida when you see a turtle riding a gator around a pond like it’s a horse,” Henninger wrote alongside the photo.
One commentator wrote, “Florida hitch hikers,” while another said, “Ooohhhhh FL” with a laugh-crying emoji.
Henninger confirmed to Insider he’d seen turtles near alligators before, but never riding one. He said the alligator, which was about 10 feet long, eventually stopped near the edge of the pond and the turtle continued to sit on its back. When Henninger left and came back an hour later both animals were still in the same area, however, the turtle was now on a log.
Henninger told Newsweek it’s not uncommon to spot alligators near other animals, adding: “Most have a natural fear of humans but other than that, they will usually share their space with birds, turtles, and other animals.”
Alligators are considered opportunistic feeders, meaning they’ll eat many kinds of prey species as long as they’re readily available, according to Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. That includes fish, snakes, birds, small mammals, and yes, even turtles.
“That’s why it’s always interesting to see gators so close to turtles and birds — those animals have no idea that they can be dinner at any moment,” Henninger told Newsweek.
Alligator activity has also recently picked up in Florida, as they tend to be most active during the mating season from April to June, so local residents typically know to look out for them. State officials have warned residents to be especially careful around ponds and lakes.
I am broadly interested in how human activities influence the ability of wildlife to persist in the modified environments that we create.
Specifically, my research investigates how the configuration and composition of landscapes influence the movement and population dynamics of forest birds. Both natural and human-derived fragmenting of habitat can influence where birds settle, how they access the resources they need to survive and reproduce, and these factors in turn affect population demographics. Most recently, I have been studying the ability of individuals to move through and utilize forested areas which have been modified through timber harvest as they seek out resources for the breeding and postfledging phases. As well I am working in collaboration with Parks Canada scientists to examine in the influence of high density moose populations on forest bird communities in Gros Morne National Park. Many of my projects are conducted in collaboration or consultation with representatives of industry and government agencies, seeking to improve the management and sustainability of natural resource extraction.