Wildlife officials are reminding Floridians to take precautions around the water as alligators become more active and visible during spring.
When temperatures rise, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, alligators' metabolism increases and they begin seeking prey.
Although alligator bite incidents resulting in serious injury are rare in Florida, the FWC urges people to brush up on tips for staying safe around freshwater lakes, ponds, swamps and slow-moving rivers in the state where the large reptiles are found:
Keep your distance. Alligators control their body temperature by basking in the sun, so they can be easily be seen. According to the FWC, if you see an alligator, keep your distance.
Never feed alligators. The FWC says people should never feed alligators because it is dangerous and illegal. When fed, alligators can overcome their natural wariness and learn to associate people with food.
Only swim during daylight hours. According to the FWC, alligators are most active between dusk and dawn. To reduce the chances of conflicts with alligators, swim only during daylight hours and in designated swimming areas.
Keep pets away from the water. The FWC also recommends pet owners keep their animals on a leash and away from the water because pets can resemble an alligator’s natural prey.
The FWC urges people who believe an alligator poses a threat to people, pets or property to call FWC’s toll-free Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286). When someone concerned about an alligator calls the hotline, the FWC will dispatch one of its contracted nuisance alligator trappers.
The American alligator, Florida’s state reptile, is an important part of Florida’s wetland habitats. Florida has a healthy and stable alligator population, which is estimated at 1.3 million alligators of every size. Learn more about alligators at MyFWC.com/Alligator.