Florida Man 'Adopts' Neighborhood Swan Babies to Help Protect Them From Alligators

Shutterstock / Kozma 94

Due to the low-lying geography of Florida, many areas have been developed from what is naturally swamp land, The entire Everglades region is rightfully a “river of grass” and the entire state is home to many rivers, lakes, and springs. Housing developments in Florida often come with retention ponds and lakes in every yard or block, formed during development and construction to make for a better foundation upon which to build.

And these small ponds make excellent homes for local native wildlife like alligators, a fact that may come as a surprise to homeowners who are not expecting such a dangerous wild neighbor in their manicured housing development.

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In this video, a man takes the local swans and their babies—called cygnets—into his yard and home to protect them from being hunted by the alligators that also make their home in the waterways just outside his yard. The previous year, he witnessed an alligator stalking a cygnet and even snatching it up from his own backyard. Determined to protect the fluffy babies this year, he’s even letting the little birds into his house, where he’s feeding them water and vegetable slurry to help keep their strength up and make them big and strong—and out of the reach of the local marine predator.

Related: Mother Swan's Annual Tradition of Walking Through Woman's House Is Just So Touching

Raising Baby Swans

Baby swans or cygnets stay with their mother for about six months after hatching. In this time, they learn all kinds of important skills, like swimming, foraging, and of course, flying. Baby cygnets are extremely vulnerable in the first few weeks of life. They are slow on the water, cannot fly away, and are the perfect snack for hungry gators. Particularly because mute swans like these are not native to Florida, they are not built to resist predation by the native Florida reptiles.

Alligator Habitat

As Florida has become more and more developed, interactions between humans and alligators has increased. This is especially true in developments that have formed retention ponds or that abut waterways, as so many Florida housing developments do. It is so common, in fact, that Florida Fish and Wildlife Service maintains a statewide “nuisance alligator program” that removes alligators from areas that have proved to be dangerous to pets or residents.

However, the program comes with a few caveats. The alligators must be a nuisance to local residents or their pets—and the wild, introduced mute swans in the area may not qualify. Also the alligator must be at least four feet in length.

Though it is a shame these cygnets are being targeted for snacks by a local alligator, it’s also true that the native animal needs to eat something. It then becomes a question about which wild creature has a right to survive I this area— the alligator native, or the swans who also swim on the river?

In the comments, people debate the issue. Sure, the cygnets are cute and all, but they don’t necessarily have any more right to the river than the gator does. One wonders, however, if by letting the swans into the house, he can no go ahead and claim them as pets?

As for this swan family though, the manis taking a live and let live approach. He says just wants to protect the swans until they are big enough not to be a target to the gator.

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