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It’s Alligator Mating Season

Here in Florida, it seems we have a season for just about everything. Beginning today, April 1st, it’s officially alligator mating season. Although alligators can’t check their calendars, the warming spring temperatures increase their metabolism, which means they become more active- and looking for food, and a mate.

Florida is home to an estimated 1.3 million alligators, and they can be found in all of Florida’s 67 counties. Alligators become mature when they reach a length of 6 to 7 feet. This can take 6-8 years for males and more than 8 years for females. When the weather warms up, larger alligators may start forcing smaller gators out of their home territories, meaning more gators will be seen out and about looking for new territory.

Although unprovoked attacks on humans are rare, they can happen. Between 1948 and 2017, there were 401 reported attacks on humans, with 24 of those being fatal. There are fewer statistics available on alligators attacking our pets.

The best way to keep you and your pets safe is to keep clear of alligator habitat altogether when walking or exercising your pet. If you must walk your pet near ponds, lakes or marshy areas, keep your pet on a leash and be vigilant about what you see and hear. Use extreme caution when walking in these areas. Alligators may mistake you or your pet for their natural prey.

Remember, it’s not just a bad idea to feed alligators- it is also illegal. Feeding alligators can cause them to begin to associate humans with food. If you encounter what you feel is a ‘nuisance’ alligator greater than 4 feet in length, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission at 1-866-392-4286 to report it.