As we set out on a walk one night, we spied eye shine in the grass beside the lake. It started moving as we cautiously approached, and the lights revealed a small alligator. It was about two feet long, with very prominent striping (a feature of young alligators). It was really neat to see one walking around, since we usually find them in the water. It waddled off into the high grass and disappeared rather quickly. We suspect this is the one we keep seeing under the live oak trees next to Pavilion 1.
The tell-tale eye-shine of an alligator (and other nocturnal vertebrates) is caused by a layer of cells called the tapetum lucidum (a Latin phrase meaning “bright carpet”). This structure is located beneath the photoreceptor cells (rods and cones) in the retina and reflects light back into these cells to increase the amount of light detected, which improves an alligator’s vision in low light conditions. Source: FWC