Florida Guide > Miscellaneous
To many people alligators are simply predatory, dangerous animals to be avoided at all costs. After all, they can grow up to 14 feet in length and weigh as much as 1,000 pounds! While this may be true, these magnificent reptiles are also part of the sunshine state's wonderful natural history.
Every one of Florida's counties is inhabited by alligators so many locals have learnt to co-exist with them. Unfortunately for the alligators the human population in Florida continues to grow at an alarming rate and building projects have swallowed up much of
their natural environment. Due to this alligators are now finding themselves
ever closer to humans and this inevitably leads to some conflict.
In the past, alligator sightings were restricted to streams, rivers and ditches. Nowadays there are also regular sightings around swimming pools, gardens, garages and in golf course ponds, so people need to be extra vigilant.
The majority of complaints relate to alligators simply appearing where they are not wanted.
Florida has a wonderful year-round climate so many people participate in water-related activities including canoeing, swimming and fishing.
Visitors to the state are also becoming more conscious of the beautiful natural environment that Florida has to offer and they are venturing further from the safety of the theme parks.
Many people do not realise that alligators are actually very shy animals and in most instances, if left alone, they will do their best to avoid human contact wherever possible. In fact they much prefer quiet isolated areas away from people.
Although not usually territorial, they will attack if they are cornered or feel threatened (very much like any other wild animal), so if near fresh water it is wise to pay close attention to your surroundings.
If you are likely to visit areas inhabited by alligators, here are some useful safety tips:
- Locals will usually know where it is safest to swim so ask their advice.
- If you choose to swim in waters that may be inhabited by alligators, stick to daylight hours. Alligators are most active between dusk and dawn.
- Wherever possible only swim within sign-posted swimming areas.
- Never allow small children to play unsupervised near water. Children tend to be less observant when they are having fun!
- Do NOT feed alligators - it is both illegal and dangerous. If fed, they learn to associate people with food!
- Do not harass them. Again, this is illegal and dangerous.
- Observe and photograph alligators only from a distance.
Visitors who apply a little common sense and show respect for the alligators should have a safe and enjoyable experience.
It is natural to fear the alligators, but please don't hate them. Remember they are part of Florida's heritage and they play an important role in the ecology of the wetlands.
Florida just wouldn't be the same without them!
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Page added on: 25 September 2006
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