Warm weather means active alligators and crocodiles

April 10, 2011

Play it safe when living close to and recreating near alligators. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Play it safe when recreating in fresh and brackish water

The onset of warm weather in the spring is when Florida’s alligators and crocodiles start getting active, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reminds Floridians and visitors to be cautious when having fun in and around water.

Florida is home to two native crocodilians: the American alligator, which is found in all 67 counties, and the American crocodile, which may be found in coastal areas of the Keys, Southeast and Southwest Florida. Both species have shared Florida’s waters with people for centuries.

Alligator along the Choctawhatchee River. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

The FWC recommends keeping pets away from the water. There are other precautionary measures people should take to reduce potential conflicts with alligators and crocodiles, and they are available in the “Living with Alligators” brochure.

Click here to download brochure
The FWC advises if you have concerns with an alligator or crocodile that poses a threat to you, your pets or property, call the FWC’s Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR (392-4286).

Alligators and crocodiles are an important part of Florida’s heritage and play a valuable role in the ecosystems where they live.  For more information on alligators and crocodiles, visit MyFWC.com/Alligator.

Food habits:
Alligators are opportunistic feeders. Their diets include prey species that are abundant and easily accessible. Juvenile alligators eat primarily insects, amphibians, small fish, and other invertebrates. Adult alligators eat rough fish, snakes, turtles, small mammals, and birds. Go to the following links for more information: http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/managed/alligator/alligator-facts/

Safety Tips:
• Generally alligators less that four feet in length are not large enough to be dangerous unless handled. However if you encounter any alligator that you believe poses a threat to people, pets or property, call the Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR (392-4286). Please be aware, nuisance alligators are harvested, not relocated.
• Be aware of the possibility of alligators when you are in or near fresh or brackish water. Bites may occur when people do not pay close enough attention to their surroundings when working or recreating near water.
• Do not swim outside of posted swimming areas in waters that might be inhabited by large alligators.
• Alligators are most active between dusk and dawn. Therefore, avoid swimming at night.
• Dogs and cats are similar in size to the natural prey of alligators. Don’t allow pets to swim, exercise or drinking in or near waters that many contain alligators. Dogs often attract an alligator’s interest, so do not swim with your dog.
• Leave alligators alone. State Law prohibits killing, harassing or possessing alligators. Handling even small alligators can result in injury.
• Never feed alligators – it’s dangerous and illegal. When fed, alligators can overcome their natural wariness and learn to associate people with food.