Animals

Video of a Giant 12-Foot Gator on the Prowl Goes Viral

An enormous reptile motors past onlookers at a Florida nature preserve.

<p>Facebook/Kim Joiner</p>

A state known for its alligators outdid itself over the weekend, when an enormous gator in Lakeland, Fla. strolled right past the waiting cameras of smartphone-enabled visitors at the Polk Nature Discovery Center, WFLA reported.

The animal ended up in a video on Facebook that has caused a stir and circulated widely.

Despite some of the more fanciful headlines on the internet deeming the creature a "dinosaur," it is really just an alligator, albeit a huge one. Tourist Kim Joiner, who shot the Facebook video below, estimated the creature to be about 12 feet long.

Even at 12 feet, though, the animal isn't the largest gator ever to stroll the Sunshine State. Brevard County's Lake Washington produced a record-setting 14-foot alligator. According to state records, another alligator - one nearly 14 feet lon as well - weighed 1,043 pounds, another best.

The behemoth in the new footage looks well fed, to the casual observer. Alligators are "opportunistic" feeders that are happy to eat whatever looks like a meal. Fish, snakes, small mammals and birds are each among the animal's many dining options, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.