May 19, 2019
Posted by: John Cassell
Spring is in the air of Georgia. But birds and bees are not the only critters looking forward to these rising temperatures. Norm, the famous bachelor of Little St. Simons, also enjoys this time of year.
Norm is an American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) who has been living in “Norm’s Pond” on Beach Road for several years. Around 12 feet long and crushing with a bite force of 5,000 pounds per square inch, Norm is a king among adult alligators. This is the time of year when males like Norm bellow to attract nearby females for breeding. If a female approaches, they do a courtship ritual with snout rubbing, blowing bubbles, and/or slapping the water. Come June the female will go away, build a nest, and defend her young.
Although Norm is proud of his status as the biggest island celebrity, he too had humble beginnings as a tiny creature dependent on the care of his mother, which is generally about 3 years!
Ecologically, alligators are a very important species to have on LSSI. They are a keystone reptile that create important habitat for other wildlife (mammals, frogs, insects) by digging wallows that hold water for drinking or breeding. While Norm’s Pond is an ideal, man-made wetland, many gator wallows exist in our forest wetlands, maritime shrub wetlands, and marshes. Keep an eye out for breeding alligators when you stay here during the springtime.