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Walking Club 101: Hiking during alligator mating season

Walking Club 101: Hiking During Alligator Mating Season
Posted at 4:55 AM, Mar 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-29 05:17:58-04

Sarah Phinney has been showing you parks and trails across the Tampa Bay region since July through her #WalkingClub series. Now, she's getting frequently asked questions in the Walking Club Facebook group answered.

Alligator mating season is right around the corner. That's why Sarah is sitting down with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to find out what it means for hikers, both new and experienced.

When is alligator mating season?

According to FWC, alligators become more active during the warmer months of the year. Courtship begins in early April. Mating occurs around May or June. Females lay their eggs around late June or early July.

“When the starts warming up, alligators become more active, it’s not just during the nesting season,” said FWC Public Information Officer Bryce Phillippi.

In terms of behavioral changes, Phillippi says you might hear alligators calling at night. They are most active during the early morning, evening and overnight hours.

What does it mean for hikers?

Phillippi says hikers should be cautious around the water.

“If you have pets, make sure you have them on a leash and keep them away from the water,” said Phillippi. “You don’t want to let your pets go in the water either. You don’t want them swimming.”

How far away should I stay from alligators?

Phillippi doesn’t have a set distance, but he says being on a boardwalk is best. Try to avoid the water line.

Many people believe running in a zigzag pattern is the best way to get away from an alligator. Phillippi can’t speak to whether or not that is effective, but says it should never get to that point.

“Don’t put yourself in the position where you have to think about that. Take precautions before then. Judge your surroundings, judge your distance and try to stay away from that before you start thinking, ‘Am I gonna have to run? Am I gonna have to zigzag?’ By then, you don’t want to be in that position,” said Phillippi.

If you notice an alligator approaching people, Phillippi says you should call FWC's toll-free Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-392-4286.

Get involved in Walking Club!

Post photos of your adventures, ask questions and learn about upcoming #WalkingClub stories in Sarah’s Walking Club group on Facebook!

You can also keep up with Sarah on Instagram and Twitter.