NAPLES, Fla.- As the thermometer continues to creep upward, Florida's signature reptile is snuggling into the sizzling weather. April marks the start of alligator mating season. That, paired warm weather, makes them more mobile than ever.
"When they start courting and displaying and looking for a mate, they tend to me a little more visible as well," FWC Alligator Management Biologist Lindsey Hord said Monday.
Florida's home to 1.3 million gators, with the reptiles spotted in each of the state's 67 counties. If dry conditions continue in Southwest Florida this summer, you may start to the gators migrate a little closer to home.
"As water bodies dry out, alligators have to go looking for some more water," Hord said.
FWC says many times gators move to previously uninhabitied waters-- like ponds, creeks and canals. While alligator attacks on humans are rare...FWC does warn that alligators may mistake your pet as an afternoon snack.
"Alligators eating people's pets is probably the thing that gets them into the most trouble. And it's the most avoidable," Hord said.
To keep your animals safe, make sure your pet is on a leash and maintain a good distance from any body of water during the hot months. FWC says a little common sense will go a long way to coexisting with the state's oldest residents.
"We live in Florida. We live amongst alligators. You're going to have alligators around, the trick is living with alligators," Hord said.
FWC estimates there are about 10 unprovoked alligators bites on people each year. For more safety tips, visit MyFWC.com.