We Floridians have some of the most fascinating and fierce neighbors- Alligators. On one hand, we have a natural and healthy fear of these ferocious predators. Yet, we can help but admire and respect them.
Even so, there are still individuals who get a kick out of bothering a sun-basking gator. Plus, many Florida residents are unaware of the proper Alligator safety measures. And unfortunately, year after year, this results in attacks on humans.
And during mating season, alligators are particularly defensive and on guard. However, there are safe and smart ways to observe alligators without provoking an attack.
In this blog, World Class Wildlife Removal describes why gators are especially aggressive during mating season.
Continue reading to ensure your safety and perhaps survive a rare encounter with a Florida alligator.
Mating Season for Alligators
From April to June, gators all across Florida will be more active with the start of the mating season. During these months, you are much more likely to see alligators. In fact, you might even spot one in your backyard or the pond across the street.
It is essential to be aware of how alligators are highly aggressive in these few months. The search for a suitable mate brings out their competitive and threatening characteristics as they fight to carry on their species.
During the alligator’s mating season, you may notice fresh battle scars on large males. This is because male gators fight for their territory. More specifically, an alpha male will drive out the other males in his area. And if any gator should choose to challenge him, a brawl is likely to occur.
The Quest for a Mate
When the weather warms for spring, alligators begin their quest for a mate. If you live in an area where a large population of gators resides, you may hear low bellowing sounds or growls signifying the start of the mating season. Alligators use this call to announce their presence among other gators and assert their dominance.
Males perform what is called a “water dance.” For this, the gator will slap the water with its tail and jaws. Alligators will also create vibrations in the water, especially when they bellow.
Additionally, both males and females leave behind scent trails from their musk glands that act similarly.
Once the gator has found a potential mate, the courtship process begins. The rituals are very expressive and complex. Behaviors include rubbing against each other’s snouts and backs, and the process can last hours. Gators will also submerge their potential mate underwater, testing for strength and readiness.
In contrast to the courtship behaviors, the actual act of mating only lasts for minutes. And soon enough, the female alligator is ready to lay her eggs. First, she builds her nest with mud and local vegetation. Then, the female gator will lay about 20 to 50 eggs and cover them with more dirt and plants. As time goes by, the leaves and grasses begin to rot, acting as an incubator for the freshly laid eggs.
The mother will stay by her nest for the entire incubation period, which lasts about 65 days. The baby gators will call out to their mother from inside their eggs to signal they are ready to hatch. Then, the female gator will brush off the top layer of mud and wait for the arrival of her hatchlings. Baby gators will stay by their mother’s side for the next year until they mature and leave for a life on their own.
Additionally, female alligators are known to be particularly aggressive during the entire process of caring for their young. She is on guard and protective from when she lays her eggs to when her babies are ready to leave.
Where are Alligators in Florida?
For centuries, gators have inhabited our land. In fact,Florida is home to over a million alligators.
So, where can you see Florida alligators? Or better yet, where don’t you see gators in Florida?
Gators are widely spread and abundant in our marshes, swamps, lakes, and rivers. However, during mating season, you may spot an alligator roaming through your very own backyard.
And if you are on the search for alligators, mating season is a perfect time to look. Take a trip to your local lake or park, and you will likely encounter an active gator. Do use caution, though. Seeing alligators out and about can be exciting, but always keep your distance and never approach or try to feed them.
Do Alligators Attack Humans?
Alligators don’t view humans as prey, and in most cases, they will leave you be. However, attacks on humans can occur for numerous reasons.
Loss of Habitat: With human expansion and development comes the loss of the alligator’s natural territory. And with the loss of their home, food can be scarce. As a result, alligators may be desperate for nutrients. And although humans are not preferred, they certainly are not off-limits, especially if the opportunity arises.
Harassment: Like most wild creatures, the alligator can become defensive and aggressive if threatened. And unfortunately, some people have a terrible habit of aggravating and irritating gators. That being said, never taunt or throw things at wild alligators. By harassing the gator, you are- quite literally– asking for trouble.
Feeding: Although well-intentioned, feeding local alligators is a very bad idea. In fact, it is illegal to feed alligators in Florida.
Upon feeding, gators will return time and time again for more food. And if food is not provided, they can become confrontational, and you may find yourself in a dangerous situation.
What About Pets?
Sadly, our precious pets are about the size of the alligator’s typical prey. So, when exploring the outdoors with your furry companion, keep them away from the water’s edge. Additionally, have your pet on a leash to ensure they’ll stay by your side and never allow them to drink from the lake or pond.
Safety Tips for Living Among Alligators
Here in Florida, our alligator neighbors make life interesting and thrilling. However, living with these carnivorous predators comes with responsibility. Our gators should be respected and treated with caution and care.
Below, we have provided our Florida residents with the dos and don’t of living among this incredible species:
Do avoid the grassy areas and banks near lakes and ponds where alligators like to hide.
Don’t feed alligators.
Do stay away from bodies of water at night and during the mating season.
Don’t swim in lakes or ponds known to have a population of gators, even if you don’t see any present.
Do give gators their space if you are observing them or taking their picture.
Don’t harass alligators in any way, including tossing objects at them, even from a safe distance.
What Should You Do if you Encounter an Aggressive Gator?
Mating season is around the corner, and alligators are on the move. But not only are they extra active in these months, but they are also more likely to become aggressive.
If you happen to encounter a gator showing aggressive behaviors, ensure your safety by doing the following:
Spotting a Gator While Swimming:
- Remain calm and locate the nearest shoreline.
- Quickly and quietly make your way to land.
- Avoid splashing by staying below the water’s surface.
- Once on land, run away and create as much distance between you and the gator as possible.
Encountering an Alligator on Land:
- Stay calm and run quickly in a straight line away from the gator.
- Run until you are about 20 feet away or until the alligator slows down significantly. Gators are fast but will tire easily.
- If the gator makes contact, fight back. They will likely determine you are not worth the effort and back off. Do this by attacking the animal’s most sensitive areas, such as their snout or eyes.
Keep in mind that attacks on humans are few and far between. And in most cases, they happen due to harassment or other irresponsible human behaviors.
World Class Wildlife Removal
If you discover an unwelcomed alligator on your property, contact World Class Wildlife Removal immediately.
At World Class Wildlife Removal, we deal effectively with the safe and humane trapping, removal, control, and capture of all kinds of wildlife. In addition, we are committed to helping you or your business handle wildlife conflicts with a humane, effective, and safe approach.
What time of year are alligators most aggressive? ›
Alligators are Most Aggressive During Mating Season and Nesting Season. American alligators are most active and aggressive during mating season, which lasts from April to June. Male gators are on the prowl for a female and can have a home range of over 1,000 acres during the mating season.What time of year are alligators most active? ›
Alligators are most active when temperatures are between 82° to 92° F (28° to 33° C). They stop feeding when the ambient temperature drops below approximately 70° F (21° C) and they become dormant below 55° F (13° C). Alligators are dormant throughout much of the winter season.When should an alligator be removed? ›
If an alligator has found its way onto your property and/or has traveled exceptionally close to your home, it is time for professional alligator extraction service. While it may be tempting to shoo away the immense creature, it simply is not a safe maneuver. Are you able to run up to 10 mph on land?What season are alligators in? ›
American alligators are most active during their springtime courtship and mating seasons, April through June, that's when the temperatures are warm between 80° and 90° F, and the 'wet season' begins.Are alligators more active in winter? ›
It's more just a reduced state of activity.” Brumation means that alligators are very much awake during winter. They're just not doing anything. It only takes a few warm days, though, to shake them from their self-imposed stupor, Grosse said.Are alligators less active in winter? ›
They are awake, just largely inactive. This state is called brumation. It doesn't take much for alligators to go dormant. They slow their eating when temperatures drop below 70 degrees and go into brumation when temperatures drop below 55 degrees.What months are alligators most active in Florida? ›
From April to June, gators all across Florida will be more active with the start of the mating season. During these months, you are much more likely to see alligators. In fact, you might even spot one in your backyard or the pond across the street.Are alligators around in the winter? ›
So, where are all the gators in late Autumn and Winter? Alligators tend to stop feeding when the temperature drops below 70 degrees and become dormant at around 55 degrees Fahrenheit. They, as reptiles, can slow their metabolism down and become very lethargic, just like humans around the holidays as well.Do alligators come out in the summer? ›
But they can be elusive during the heat of summer and the cold of winter. Alligators will go into a semi-hibernation period during the coldest months of the year. They emerge from their dens in the spring, especially in April, when the days are warmer.What time of day are alligators least active? ›
Swim only during daylight hours. Alligators are most active between dusk and dawn. Inform others that feeding alligators is illegal and creates problems for others who want to recreate in or near the water.
Can an alligator survive winter? ›
While it's hard to believe they are able to survive icy conditions, animal experts said they are very much alive and well. Since they're cold-blooded, they rely on the sun to warm them up which increases their body temperature. Once the ice melts, they will come out of the water to sunbathe and warm up.How do you get an alligator to let go of you? ›
“Pop them on the snout. The tip of their snout is very sensitive. That might be able to get them to release you,” Magill said. Jabbing a gator in the eyes may also make it release its bite, even for just a moment, allowing you to get away before it pulls you underwater.What do alligators due in the winter? ›
Alligators are coldblooded and rely on their environment for temperature regulation. While hibernation is a common adaptation technique among warm-blooded mammals, alligators do not hibernate, they brumate, the reptilian equivalent of mammal hibernation.What do alligators do in summer? ›
To warm themselves, alligators bask in the sun, which is when they are frequently observed on the banks of water bodies. On hot summer days they can sometimes be seen basking with their mouths open. This is a cooling mechanism essentially equivalent to a dog panting.Can alligators smell period blood? ›
Be very careful. It is highly recommended that all menstruating women wear a diaper in addition to a full wetsuit too help cover the scent of their menstruations. Like bears, gators can smell the menstruation, which will put your entire party at risk.Do alligators like cold weather? ›
As cold-blooded reptiles, alligators rely on their external environments for temperature regulation, which means cold weather is not conducive to their survival.Where do alligators go during winter? ›
Alligators do not hibernate. Instead, they undergo phases of dormancy when the temperatures drop and it becomes too cold for them to be out in the open. They create a “gator hole” along the waterway that provides protection during extreme weather conditions.Do alligators like cold or hot weather? ›
Alligators rely on warm weather to survive, and are most active when the environment is between 82 and 92 degrees Fahrenheit. While they can survive at temperatures above and below this range, they may spend that time struggling to stay cool or stay warm.What temp is too cold for alligators? ›
Alligators stop feeding when the ambient temperature drops below about 70° F and they become dormant below 55° F, according to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Management Commission.What temperature do alligators stop moving? ›
In the winter, when the temperature falls below 55°F, alligators enter an idle state termed brumation. Unlike in hibernation, alligators can move around and continue to be aware of their environment in this condition.
How does cold weather affect alligators? ›
By lowering their metabolic rates, becoming lethargic and keeping their snouts above water, alligators are able to survive brief periods of freezing weather. As cold-blooded reptiles, alligators rely on their external environments for temperature regulation, which means cold weather is not conducive to their survival.Is there an alligator season in Florida? ›
The harvest areas and hunt dates are specific for each permit, and the permit specifies the boundaries or limitations of the harvest area. The statewide alligator hunting season begins on August 15 and ends on November 1.Can you see alligators in the winter in Florida? ›
During the winter, alligators in southern Florida come out to bask on shorelines in the sun on most days, although they seem a bit more sluggish during cold weather than during the summer.Are alligators out in December in Florida? ›
In addition to all that, December is also a great time to make family memories by going alligator watching. With the winter months being the dry and cooler season in Florida, alligators tend to be more visible on land for people going on airboat tours.Can alligators climb trees? ›
Some alligators and crocodiles don't just lurk in water. They lurk in trees. Crocodiles and alligators can -- and do -- climb trees. “Climbing behavior is common among crocodilians,” reads a new study in Herpetology Notes.Do alligators swim in cold water? ›
Alligators are reptiles and are not warm-blooded. They have the ability to live in water as cool as 40ºF, although weaker animals may die at that temperature.Do alligators like warm weather? ›
Basking in the sun
Alligators have survived millions of years but need temperatures above 40 degrees to be active and can't digest food if the temperature is below 70 degrees. Reptiles are coldblooded (ectothermic) and rely on external sources of heat to regulate their body temperature.
When they are cold, they sunbathe, and when they are hot, they go for a swim. This means on a rainy day you may not see as many alligators on land, however, alligators are rather curious creatures which means they will swim up to a boat just to check it out even in the rain.Are alligators more active after rain? ›
Or that recent rains tend to make alligators more active. “The males and females have been spending lots of time with reproductive activities, so they are hungry. With that, and the rainfall, that only makes them more active. And since they are moving around more, that brings them in more frequent contact with people.”Who eats alligator meat? ›
Apparently, lots of folk, and especially those who love their Cajun and Creole cooking. Turns out, alligator is the other white meat! Alligator is eaten pretty much where alligator is widely found, Florida, South Carolina, Texas and Louisiana.
What time of year do alligators not eat? ›
When it gets cold in the winter, alligators slow down. Below 70 degrees F or so they stop feeding, and when it gets much colder, alligators dig out a den in the bank of a pond or river and go dormant until it warms up again.What do alligators do during the dry season? ›
During the dry season (December-April), the rains diminish and surface water levels drop. Wildlife becomes concentrated in areas where water remains. The American alligator's uses its powerful tail, jaws and feet to push away dirt and vegetation to keep a pool of water open throughout the dry season.Are alligators more active at night or day? ›
Alligators are nocturnal, thus most active from dusk to dawn. Avoid being near the water's edge or swimming during this key feeding time. Alligators lunge from still water to catch unsuspecting prey near the shoreline.What temperature is too hot for alligators? ›
While they enjoy the Florida warmth, but get too hot over 92 degrees, alligators may lay in the sun with their mouths open in order to allow heat to escape, much like the way a dog pants to cool down. If the heat is too extreme, alligators will move very little during the say and instead become active at night.Can alligators survive in Arizona? ›
Though alligators are native to wide swaths of the southeastern United States, their range doesn't extend to the Arizona desert.Can alligators survive Michigan? ›
Midwest winters are way too cold for gators. "They didn't grow up in these cyclical, cold-warm environments," said Mary Bohling, an environmental specialist with Michigan State University Extension. "If they are let out into an environment with changing temperatures, they are not likely to survive."How do you get out of an alligator? ›
If you can escape on land, run away in a straight line. Experts debunk the advice to zig-zag. Gators can move really fast on land, but only in short bursts and distances before they tire out. Try to cause a gag reflex by jamming any objects you can reach into the back of the alligator's mouth.What are alligators afraid of? ›
Alligators have a natural fear of humans, and usually begin a quick retreat when approached by people. If you have a close encounter with an alligator a few yards away, back away slowly.Where do you stab an alligator? ›
With the top of the alligator's head facing up, use a sharp knife to sever the spinal cord by cutting across the body between the back of the head and first vertebra. To ensure the alligator is dead, insert a metal shaft into the brain cavity to pith and destroy the brain.Do alligators stop eating in the winter? ›
“Whenever the cold comes in, they go into brumation, meaning they stay awake, they just don't eat.” Sabelhaus says that in order for alligators to survive the winter, they stop eating and start storing fat once they feel the cold weather. “It's almost like a coma,” she said.
Should you swim with alligators? ›
Do not allow your dogs or children to swim in waters inhabited by alligators, or to drink or play at the water's edge. To an alligator, a splash potentially means a food source is in the water. It is best to avoid swimming in areas that are known habitats for large alligators but at the least, never swim alone.Can I shoot an alligator on my property in South Carolina? ›
Hunters participating in the Public Alligator Hunting Season may take alligators in public waters and on private land where permission is granted, but hunting is prohibited on Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Wildlife Refuges.Can you shoot an alligator in self defense? ›
This common self-defense load from Federal for the 9mm Luger will work just fine for personal protection—as long as the shooter does their part with correct shot placement. It works just fine on alligators too.Can dogs smell a woman's period? ›
Broadly recently conducted an investigation to determine what type of pets are most skilled at sniffing out someone's menstrual cycle, and the results might actually surprise you. It turns out that both cats and dogs are able to detect menstruation by odor and hormonal levels.Does old period blood smell like fish? ›
Period smells “fishy”
Unlike other common odors, fishiness usually indicates a medical problem that you need to see a doctor for. This odor is most often attributed to bacterial vaginosis, a type of infection. It's also a lot stronger than a normal period smell.
Crocodiles can not mate with alligators. The quick answer is no. Despite having a similar appearance, they are genetically too different, and although related, they long ago diverged into different genera.Where do most alligator attacks happen? ›
This is a list of fatal alligator attacks in the United States in reverse chronological order by decade. All occurred in the Southeast, where alligators are endemic to wetlands and tidal marshes. The state of Florida, where most attacks and deaths occur, began keeping records of alligator attacks in 1948.Are alligators aggressive at night? ›
Alligators are also more active at dusk, although they can be active at any time of the day or night, Ross added. The best lesson is to be cautious around waters where alligators live, Ross said. "People just need to be alert and aware," he said.What are the odds of getting attacked by an alligator? ›
Florida alligator bite statistics date back to 1948, ranging around three major bites per year. The chance of someone being attacked is one in 3.2 million.What do alligators do in the winter in Florida? ›
Alligators do not hibernate. Instead, they undergo phases of dormancy when the temperatures drop and it becomes too cold for them to be out in the open. They create a “gator hole” along the waterway that provides protection during extreme weather conditions.
Can alligators smell dogs? ›
The dog owner needs to be aware that alligators have a good sense of smell too, and they love to detect a dog's smell. You may be innocently passing by with your dog when an alligator gets a whiff of one of his favorite smells. The best safety tip is to walk with your dog on a leash.Can you swim in lakes with alligators? ›
Do not allow your dogs or children to swim in waters inhabited by alligators, or to drink or play at the water's edge. To an alligator, a splash potentially means a food source is in the water. It is best to avoid swimming in areas that are known habitats for large alligators but at the least, never swim alone.What to do if an alligator is chasing you? ›
Run, and do not slow down, he said. If the alligator is attacking because you have trespassed into its territory, it just wants to run you off -- not hunt you down, he said. “Run away in a straight line. Everything you hear about running in a zigzag line is untrue.”Do loud noises scare alligators? ›
If you are approached by an alligator, make a loud noise to scare it away. You can hit your paddle against the side of your vessel, blow the whistle on your PFD, or even consider keeping an air horn on board.Can you shoot an alligator in Florida if it attacks you? ›
It's a third-degree felony under Florida law to kill or injure an alligator. It's also a felony to capture and keep an alligator or its eggs unless you purchase a special alligator trapping or farming license from the state.Can a human outrun an alligator on land? ›
It's very rare for an alligator to chase a human on dry land. And the average human could easily outrun an alligator, zigzagging or not — it tops out at a speed of around 9.5 miles per hour (15 kph), and it can't maintain that speed for very long [source: University of Florida].What animal can beat an alligator? ›
But despite their size and strength, there are animals that do prey on them. Man appears to be their biggest predator. Big cats like leopards and panthers sometimes kill and eat these big reptiles. Large snakes can also do a lot of damage to alligators and crocodiles.