Last week a man struck an 11-foot alligator while driving. The crashed caused the car to veer off the road and overturn into a ditch. The driver and the alligator were killed.
“To people outside of Florida, the story is shocking but for Floridians it is a familiar cautionary tale,” says Dustyn Shroff, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s leading boat insurance agency.
Co-existing with alligators is apart of life in Florida. The Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reports there are around 1.3 million alligators living across the state, inhabiting all 67 counties in Florida.
With an increase in temperature, the chances of spotting an alligator is more likely. The warmer weather means alligators are more mobile. A rise in temperature increases an alligator’s metabolism, which means they begin hunting for prey according to the FWC. It also means they’ll be seen basking in the sun as they regulate their body temperature. By the way, alligators are most active between dusk and dawn.
If you do have an alligator sighting around your home, do not try to capture it, leave that to the professionals. You can call the Nuisance Alligator Hotline, 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286).
Above all else, the FWC advises to never feed an alligator. It is dangerous as well as illegal. Feeding them can lead the animal to overcome their natural weariness of people and teach them to associate people with food.
The Key West Aquarium, has tips for living with alligators:
- Stay at a safe distance of at least 50 feet away.
- Do not approach an alligator to take a selfie.
- Avoid checking to see if an alligator is alive.
- Before entering a freshwater stream, lake or spring, check around. Alligators are often around even if you don’t see them.
- Keep pets on a leash and away from the water.
- Steer clear of water at night.
If one bites you, make as much noise as possible. Work hard to get away, use force and try poking at their eyes.
As if alligators were not enough to watch for, Florida has crocodiles as well. Most are in south Florida; however, they are moving north. The FWC reports, “The number of crocodile complaints has risen as a result of their recovery and the increasing number of people living and recreating in south Florida.”
How can you tell the difference? Alligators have more of a U-shaped snout. They are also black. Whereas crocodiles have a V-shaped snout and are usually a lighter grayish, brown color. Alligators are aggressive but crocodiles are more aggressive and longer.
As the FWC warns, Stay Alert! Always be aware of your surroundings.