Living Alongside Florida Alligators

Alligator basking at the waters edge
Alligator basking at the waters edge

With 17 million people living in Florida and between 1 and 2 million alligators in the state, it is inevitable that there will be conflict.

A lot of people want to live on a waterfront property today and with the increasing lack of water from prolonged droughts, alligators are being pushed closer and closer to human habitation. This is most apparent during April and May when male alligators are looking for a mate.

If you see an alligator that is getting too close to human habitation or becoming aggressive, you can ring the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission toll free alligator hotline on 1–866-FWC-GATOR

Alligators are typically shy and will avoid contact with humans but very occasionally an alligator will attack a human though it is rare for this to happen. On average, there are around six to eight ‘major’ attacks by alligators in Florida each year.   There have been around 20 deaths attributed to alligator attacks in Florida since records started being kept in 1948. Tragically, three women died in separate alligator related incidents in May 2006.

As a general rule, alligators are more active between dusk and dawn and because they are cold-blooded, they also tend to be less active when the air temperature is colder.

A cousin of the alligator is the crocodile but there are less than 2,000 American crocodiles in the wild. Two people were injured by a crocodile in Coral Gables in 2014 when they jumped into a canal after dark.

Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to alligators

When it comes to any wild animal use your common sense and if you have the misfortune to be bitten or scratched by an alligator, seek immediate medical attention as alligator bites can result in blood infections from deadly pathogens in their mouths.

Alligators are very fast but only over very short distances which they use to their advantage when lunging at their prey. Old wives tales suggest you should run in a zig-zag pattern if chased; being chased over any sort of distance is very unlikely.

  • Never feed an alligator (it is illegal) - alligators are generally afraid of humans but if fed regularly they will lose their fear and come to associate food with humans
  • Do not take small children or pets close the water’s edge or leave them unsupervised - the natural prey of adult alligators includes small mammals
  • Be particularly careful when walking near the water or swimming in rivers or lakes, especially if there is floating vegetation - alligators will hide amongst floating vegetation when stalking their prey. Best advice is to stay out of fresh water lakes, rivers and canals
  • If you disturb an alligator, try to move away from the water - an alligator will typically retreat back towards the water and you do not want to be between it and the water
  • If an alligator hisses at you, it means it’s afraid - if it doesn’t hiss then you should be afraid !!
  • If attacked, try to punch, kick or gouge at their nose and eyes

See also:- Florida alligators

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