A mother alligator with a row of babies hitching a ride on her head and back was photographed on the golf course at the Country Club of Hilton Head this week.
Bruce Hodgkiss, assistant golf professional at the club, snapped the shot with his phone near Hole 3 on Wednesday while he and head golf professional Gary Otto were marking hazards on the course ahead of a tournament.
He said the alligator was about 15 feet away when they spotted her.
They counted seven babies altogether; one jumped into the water before Hodgkiss took the photo.
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The Hilton Head Island resident said golfers see gators all the time, so that part wasn’t unusual, but seeing one carrying babies was something different.
“That’s not something I’ve ever seen before,” he said.
Was he nervous? Mother alligators are protective of their babies, so that gave him pause. As far as the alligator, he said, “she wasn’t phased at all.”
Another surprise for Hodgkiss was the reaction to his photo. He said he didn’t know it had been posted on Facebook until the page’s administrator told him it was the club’s most popular post of the day. It had been shared more than 100 times by Friday morning.
“Wow incredible,” one commenter wrote.
“Now that’s ‘using your head,’ ” another posted.
National Geographic reports that is not unusual for alligator moms to carry their babies on their heads or snouts — even inside their mouths.
SCDNR says the mother will stay with her babies for up to a year.
Lisa Wilson: 843-706-8103