Alligators in Florida

Aligators in Florida

Alligators in Florida are a common site in the wild and well worth seeing. They’re living dinosaurs we can observe today.

Where to see alligators in Florida

A man photographing an alligator.
Photographing an alligator before I had a good telephoto lens.

The farther south you go on mainland Florida, the more likely you’ll see wild alligators. The Everglades are home to more than anywhere else in the state. They can be found in any body of fresh or brackish water. There doesn’t have to be a lot of water. They’re found in swimming pools. The best time to see them is when water levels are low.

Shark Valley in the Everglades is arguably the best place to get close to a wild gator. They’ve use to people being close by. Still exercise caution. A seven year old boy was bitten and dragged into a canal after he fell off his bike there. His parents saved him and all recovered.

The roadside ditch on the north side of the Tamiami Trail is also a good place to see alligators. Speeding cars are the biggest danger here. They’re also common on the north side of Alligator Alley during the dry season. It’s a boring stretch of road, so seeing who can spot the most gators first helps break the monotony. The driver is not allowed to play.

How dangerous are Florida alligators?

The quick answer is not very. However, the friends and family of people they’ve killed or injuredAn alligator in Florida would disagree. They’re natural prey is anything they can swallow whole. This can be insects when the alligators are small up to pigs and pythons when they’re large. Young children and pets are more likely to be attacked than large adults, yet adults are attacked. No one is sure why. It could be a mistake. Maybe they’re defending their territory, or maybe it’s something else.

Florida averages five unprovoked bites per year. There have been 22 deaths since 1948. In June of 2015 an alligator killed a two year old boy at a Disney World resort hotel. Fatal attacks are rare, but horribly tragic. There are no accurate statistics on how many pets are taken. Often the dog or cat simply disappears.

Rachel Campbell and an alligator.
Rachel serving as a bad example.

Alligator safety rules

  • Don’t feed the alligators. When large carnivores in the wild start to associate food with humans, bad things happen.
  • Don’t get between an alligator and its path back to the water.
  • Don’t swim in or go next to bodies of water with alligators in them from dusk till dawn. Alligators are most active at night and usually feed at night.
  • Don’t swim with a dog. They attract alligators. The safest thing to do is never let a dog swim in water that has alligators. Cats are too smart to do this.
  • Don’t get too close to wild alligators. Do as we say, not as we do.

Alligators play an important role in the environment.

Florida Alligators eat a lot of trash fish. Making room for more desirable fish such as bass. They also protect the nests of some birds. A raccoon is risking its life if it tries to get to a nest surrounded by alligator inhabited waters. The alligators provide security. They take chicks that fall out of the nest as payment.

A gar
Alligators eat a lot of gar.

There are so many alligators in Florida, that it sometimes appears they are over populating. But alligators keep their population in check. A juvinile alligator is more likely to be eaten by a big alligator than fall prey to another predator. This, and their territoriality, limit the population.

Love them or hate them, alligators are part of Florida, and always will be.

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