Alligator Safety

alligator at la chua trail basking in sun
Alligators can be viewed from the raised boardwalk at La Chua Trail at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park

Beware of Alligators

Alligators have been around since the age of the dinosaurs. Found only in the southeastern United States, American Alligators inhabit freshwater lakes, and other bodies of water. Often you may see their eyes, heads, or back ridges protruding from the water’s surface. From a distance, Alligators in the water can sometimes look like floating logs.
Alligators feed mainly on fish, turtles, snakes, birds, and small mammals.

Alligator behavior changes with the weather since they are cold-blooded. During cooler winter months alligators slow down and become more dormant. As temperatures rise in late Spring and early Summer, alligator activity increases. Around the month of May, you may see or hear male alligators “bellowing”, or making a low rumbling sound, in order to attract a mate.

Around the month of June, alligator nests are built from mounds of decaying vegetation up to 3 feet high and several feet across. In the center of the nest, females lay 30-50 hard-shelled eggs which hatch in about 65 days, typically around July-August. Female alligators are very protective of these nests and will act aggressively toward anyone who gets too close.

General Tips:

  • Stay away from shorelines close to bodies of water where alligators may be present
  • Adult alligators have virtually no natural predators
  • Observe alligators from a safe distance, or from a raised boardwalk or behind a barrier or fence
  • Pay attention and read safety signs in nature parks
  • Do not feed alligators
  • Alligators are most active between dusk and dawn
  • Do not allow pets or children to walk alongside bodies of water where alligators may be present

Additional Resources:
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-FWCGATOR (866-392-4286).