No, I am not referring to the ever-popular University of Florida Gators. I am talking about the real, live Florida alligator.
If your home is near water be aware of the fact alligators are probably your neighbor. If you have pets or small children never let them outside unattended.
Last week I walked out my back door only to be greeted by a 6-foot alligator in the back yard. I live on a canal so seeing an occasional alligator is not out of the ordinary here. Since this was the first time I had seen one on the lawn I simply left him alone and he later returned to the canal.
If you live in Florida near a body of water, alligators are likely your neighbors.
Although we share our space with the alligator it does not mean we want to cross paths with this creature. We have to co-exist so taking the proper steps to avoid a potentially dangerous situation with an alligator is in your best interest. Knowing the habitat of the gator and how they live can minimize your chances of having a dangerous encounter.
Never feed alligators. It is is illegal to do so.
Never swim in waters alligators are known to frequent. Alligators typically avoid human being but gators fed by humans become aggressive and can be extremely dangerous. If you come across a gator acting aggressively their behavior is not normal. It is is best to call Florida Fish and Wildlife or a professional licensed alligator trapper immediately.
Merry Beth Ryan, a member of the Florida Outdoor Writers Association, can be reached at www.merrybethryanphotography.com, by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone (941) 544-5023.
Most golf courses here in Florida have resident alligators around their fairways. Is is best to stay a safe distance away from the gators at all times even at the cost of losing a golf ball. Be cautious around any water on the course. If your ball lands close to the edge of the water lose it rather than risk upsetting the alligator or surprising an alligator lurking just below the surface. A surprised gator's reaction is one you will not like.
They are a double threat being dangerous on land as well as in the water.
Alligators rely on their keen eyesight to help them hunt. They see movement and react to it. They cannot determine the difference between an animal they are stalking or a human being. This is why we humans must always remain aware of Florida surroundings. Alligators lie motionless waiting for their next meal and they primarily hunt at night.
Is is common to see alligators in Florida. They prefer freshwater but there have been sightings of alligators in salt water most likely just passing through on their way back to the freshwater habitat where they thrive. They can be found in lakes, ponds, rivers, swamps as well as in your backyard canal systems. Alligators have even been known to show up in your swimming pools and more reports are making the news where gators have waddled right into homes here in Florida.
When an alligator is out of its environment it can be dangerous and their danger is not to be taken lightly. The gators were here long before we were so they have earned their respect and have become a part of Florida's wildlife we can all enjoy from a distance.