TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Co-existing with alligators is just part of life in Florida and, now that mating season is here, wildlife experts are reminding people to take caution.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the courtship process for the state’s more than one million alligators begins in April. Mating then happens in May or June before females build a nest and deposit about 32 to 46 eggs. After 63 to 68 days of incubation, the eggs will hatch from mid-August through early September.
The increased alligator activity over the next few months can lead to more frequent run-ins with humans. And while alligator bites are uncommon, the FWC has tips to make sure you and your family stay safe.
Wildlife officials urge everyone to be careful and pay close attention when spending time around fresh or brackish water. You should only swim during daylight hours and within posted swimming areas. Children playing in or around water should be closely supervised.
Pets should not be allowed to swim, drink or play in or near water that may have alligators in it. The FWC says dogs have a higher risk of being bitten by alligators because they resemble their natural prey.
Feeding alligators is illegal and dangerous. FWC officials say alligators will associate people with food and overcome their wariness of humans if they are fed.
Alligators should be left alone. State law prohibits killing, harassing or possessing alligators except under permit. You should never remove one from its natural habitat.
If an alligator does bite you, the FWC says the best thing you can do is fight back by making as much noise as possible and resisting. Hitting, kicking or poking the alligator in its eye may make it let go and retreat. You should then seek immediate medical attention for your bite.
The FWC has a Nuisance Alligator Hotline you can call if you see a gator that appears to be a threat to people, pets or property. The number is 1-866-FWC-GATOR. Nuisance alligators are killed, not relocated.
You can learn more about alligators in Florida and how you can stay safe on the FWC website.