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Alligator Mating Season Begins April 1st – Tips For Keeping Your Pet Safe

As you know, I am a native Floridian and have been around alligators my entire life and I want to give you a few tips on keeping your pet safe.  Alligators will and do eat pets. If you live in Pinellas County, or anywhere else in Florida, alligators occupy every body of fresh water in the state.

Alligators Generally Avoid Humans

Human-alligator encounters do happen, as you well know from recent news accounts.  Although some years do not see any fatal attacks, other years have seen many. These numbers appear low in comparison to many other deadly animal encounters. This may be due to the alligator being primarily water-bound. 

Safe Distance

Local Florida wisdom tells that one should stay at least twenty to thirty feet from the water to be safe from an alligator attack. Some suggest greater distances, up to 60 feet. Alligator experts say that alligators will most often try to avoid contact with humans. This is not true of smaller animals, especially dogs and cats. Alligators see these animals as potential meals. Every now and then, a pet goes missing and is never seen again. Though the cause of death in such cases is a mystery, alligators are usually to blame. Some pet owners are not so lucky however; being on-scene when an alligator attacks and eats their pet.

Control Your Pet

Your pet cannot be expected to know what is best. It is up to you, the pet parent to take precautions. Keeping your pets away from waters that contain alligators is simple. If you’re walking near a body of water, keep a safe distance – 20 to 30 feet or more from the water.  We have a leash law in Pinellas County but if you happen to be visiting an area that allows off leash dogs, be aware the only protection your pet has is a mere growth of cattails or weeds along the bank and you would be wise to keep your pet on a leash if there is water nearby.

Coddled Critters’ Suggests Some Alligator Do’s and Dont’s

  • Never feed alligators. It’s dangerous and illegal. When fed, alligators overcome their natural wariness and learn to associate people with food.
  • Dispose of fish scraps in garbage cans at boat ramps and fish camps. Do not throw them in the water.
  • Be aware of alligators when you are near fresh or brackish water. Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Alligators are most active between dusk and dawn. Avoid wading or swimming after dark or at dusk and dawn.
  • NEVER swim with your dog. Dogs attract an alligator’s interest. Dogs and cats are similar in size to an alligator’s natural prey. Don’t allow pets to swim, exercise or drink in or near waters that might alligators.
  • Leave alligators alone. State law prohibits killing, harassing or possessing alligators. Observe and photograph alligators from a distance.

 For further information about alligators in Florida, visit the website of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. 

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