TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (NewsNation Now) — Wildlife experts say now is the time to “proceed with caution” as mating season has begun for Florida’s one million gators.
Increased “alligator activity” over the next couple of months means more run-ins with humans.
“Gator wrangling” is a common practice for authorities in Florida. They help wildlife experts safely transfer the reptiles back to their natural habitats especially now that mating season has begun.
“The alligators gather in the wetland areas and the males call for the females by vibrating. They arch their back and their tails. That’s how you know it’s matting season when you hear those bellowing rumbles and see the alligators rippling the water surface with that vibration, ” explained National Wildlife Federation Naturalist David Mizejewski.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the courtship process begins in April with mating in May or June.
Females then build a nest for about 32-46 eggs. After a little more than two months of incubation, the eggs will hatch from mid-August, to early September.
Mizejewski says the ones to watch are the males.
“The males get a little bit more territorial and again they’re out there trying to find a mate and they’re showing off with their bellows and rumbles trying to fight other males away. In egg-laying season females will build a nest on the ground and they will aggressively defend their nest. “ said Mizejewski.
Experts urge people to be careful and pay close attention when spending time around fresh or “Brackish” water and to swim in daylight hours because they are more active at dusk.
Dogs have a higher risk of being bitten because they resemble their natural prey.
But Mizejewski also says, from a safe distance, it’s a beautiful sight to see.
“I think it’s cool that we have the opportunity to potentially see alligators during mating season. They really are an endangered species success story. We once almost completely wiped them out, but because of good conservation practices we protected their habitat and now alligators are fairly common,” stated Mizejewski.
If you do encounter a gator, don’t approach it. Call your local animal agency and they will give you specific details on what to do next.