Before Florida was heavily developed, much of the state was a swamp, a natural home for gators. Alligators have lived in the state for centuries; we have invaded their territory. Once facing extinction, today, the gator population is thriving, now estimated to be over 1 million.
Many Florida neighborhoods have fresh water ponds. These ponds usually serve two purposes. First, the ponds hold runoff from a heavy rain; they are an important link in handling water and helping to prevent flash floods. The second purpose is purely decorative; Floridians love to live by water.
If you have such a pond close by, there is a very good chance of an alligator living in it. Alligators are found in all counties in the state. As long as you observe some common sense rules gators will not give you any problems.
Never, never, feed an alligator.
Gators have a natural fear of humans, feeding leads a gator to associate us with food and so their fear is lessened. Don’t even feed other animals in a pond, such as ducks or fish. The uneaten scraps of food will attract the gators and again, they will lose their fear of humans.
Don’t walk your pet close to the edge of any body of water. They are just the right size for a gator.
Don’t reach into a lake on a golf course to retrieve a ball. There have been several arms lost to gators from golfers who ignored the “Beware of Alligators” sign.
When walking at dusk or when dark, be aware that gators can be on the prowl. This is extremely important in April and May, when adult males are moving around looking for a mate.
Alligator attacks on humans are rare, they do occur, on average about five per year. Since 1948, there have been 22 deaths attributed to alligator attacks in Florida.
State law prohibits the killing or harassing of alligators. If you wake up to find an alligator in your swimming pool, or have a problem gator in your area, you can call the Florida Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 1-866-FWC-GATOR.
I don’t think I can outrun a gator, and I’m sure not going to try.
Keep a safe distance.