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It’s a Swamp Thing

Have you ever wanted an up-close, personal experience with a 1,000-pound alligator that’s just chilling on the edge of a swamp?

If you answered yes, then Gulf Coast Gator Ranch & Tours is the place for you, and owner Eva Philip said the Spring season is the perfect time to bring the family for an interactive and thrilling experience.

“All of the alligators are waking up,” Philip said, adding that spring is an exciting time for the ranch.

“We have more than 100 alligators, including the babies, and they are all moving around and ready to show off,” Philip said.

The ranch offers a chance to board high-speed airboats with knowledgeable captains who are not afraid to show off while steering the boat to their favorite swamp spots in the natural beauty of the Mississippi bayous. Don’t expect a long wait to experience the thrill of an airboat tour. Swamp boats run every half hour giving every visitor a chance to view gators and other wildlife in their natural habitats.

This summer will bring opportunities to hand-feed juvenile alligators. Visitors can touch and hold the alligators, but it’s recommended to keep fingers away from the tiny, chomping jaws despite the giant rubber bands holding their mouths securely shut during the interactions.

Ranch-goers can also stroll along the wild side during the walking tour that reaches some of the most beautiful swamplands in Southern Mississippi where you are sure to spot an alligator or two soaking up the sun. Visitors can buy gator nuggets in the souvenir shop to toss to the massive creatures.

The 40-year-old ranch sits on 105 acres of some of the most pristine swamplands bordering the Grand Bay Estuary in Moss Point, and Philip said it’s the only alligator ranch in Mississippi.

She added the majority of the ranch’s alligator congregation (and yes, that’s what a group of alligators is called) consists of nuisance gators.

When an alligator inadvertently ends up in a neighborhood, on a highway, or another place it shouldn’t be, trappers will relocate the animal to the ranch. Once in its new home, the gator can live out its days in this protected waterway and swampland where some of the oldest and largest alligators in captivity are housed and fed.

Hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Hours vary on holidays. Be sure to call (228)475-6026 during inclement weather to ensure the ranch is open and running boat tours because apparently gators are just like people and don’t like to do too much of anything when it rains.

Now go get your gator on!

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