TAMPA, Fla. — Living in Florida means we share the state with an estimated 1.3 million alligators. As the weather warms and their mating season begins, you should keep these things in mind.
Warm spring weather means alligators are more active and more visible, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said. Courtship begins in April then mating happens in May or June, according to FWC.
Rising temperatures increase an alligator's metabolism, which means they begin seeking prey, according to FWC. It also means they'll be observed basking in the sun as they regulate their body temperature.
FWC warns that although alligator bite incidents resulting in serious injury are rare, keep your distance.
FWC also warns residents and visitors to never feed an alligator. It's not only dangerous, it's illegal. Feeding them can lead the animals to overcome their natural wariness of people and teach them to associate people with food.
For pet owners, FWC has a special warning — keep animals on a leash and away from water because they can resemble an alligator's natural prey.
Alligators are most active between dusk and dawn, so plan accordingly to reduce the chances of running into them.
Although many Floridians have learned to coexist with alligators, the potential for conflict always exists. Serious injuries caused by alligators are rare in Florida, but if you are concerned about an alligator, call FWC’s toll-free Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-392-4286. The FWC will dispatch one of its contracted nuisance alligator trappers to resolve the situation.
FWC also offers the following tips:
- If you encounter an alligator that is believed to pose a threat to people, pets or property, call the FWC’s Nuisance Alligator Hotline, toll‐free at 1‐866‐FWC‐GATOR (392‐4286). The FWC’s Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program (SNAP) uses contracted nuisance alligator trappers throughout the state to remove alligators 4 feet in length or greater that are believed to pose a threat.
- Be aware of the possible presence of alligators when in or near fresh or brackish water. Negative alligator encounters may occur when people do not pay close attention to their surroundings when working or recreating near water.
- Closely supervise children when they are playing in or around water.
- Never swim outside of posted swimming areas.
- Swim only during daylight hours. Alligators are most active between dusk and dawn.
- Inform others that feeding alligators is illegal and creates problems for others who want to recreate in or near the water.
- Dispose of fish scraps in garbage cans at boat ramps and fish camps – do not throw them in the water. Although you are not intentionally feeding alligators when you do this, the end result can be the same.
- Observe and photograph alligators only from a safe distance. Remember, they are an important part of Florida’s natural history as well as an integral component of freshwater ecosystems.
- Leave alligators alone. State law prohibits killing, harassing or possessing alligators except under permit.
- Never remove an alligator from its natural habitat or accept one as a pet. It is illegal and dangerous to do so. Handling even small alligators can result in injury.
- If an alligator bites you, the best thing to do is fight back, providing as much noise and resistance as possible. Hitting or kicking the alligator or poking it in its eyes may cause it to release its grip. When alligators seize prey they cannot easily overpower, they will often let go and retreat.
- Seek immediate medical attention if bitten by an alligator. Alligator bites often result in serious infection.
For more information, visit the FWC's website.