Local Weather Conditions
MarshBunny Notes
The St. Johns River The Intracoastal and Beyond
How to Avoid an Alligator Attack
An alligator basking in the sun on the bank of the St. Johns river.

A reader asked me if there is any product to use as an Alligator Repellant - you know, like Shark Repellant. With tongue firmly in cheek I replied that she should tie little bells on her clothes to make noise to scare them off, and carry pepper spray just in case of attack. You can tell if Alligators are in the area if you find droppings with little bells in it, smelling like pepper.

Truthfully, the best way to avoid an alligator attack is by using common sense. Since common sense isn't all that common, here is a little clarification for those of you who need it.

Here's the short version: Stay away from alligators.


Alligators are large, wild animals with very basic instincts. The most basic instinct is to eat, and except for mating occasionally, they have few other interests. A fully grown alligator can reach 13 feet and 600 pounds. This fully grown alligator has a brain the size of a walnut. He's not into multitasking - he has one thing on his mind - Eat! - and there is little room for anything more.

Alligators will eat nearly anything, but have shown a preference for dogs, chicken, and marshmallows.

They mostly sleep in the sun during the day and feed at night, when they can only be detected by the red glow of their eyes.

They will usually be in the edges of water where they can hide in the reeds or head for deeper water. While they are fresh-water creatures, they have occasionally been spotted in the briny water of the intercoastal waterway and even in the Atlantic ocean.

During mating season (May - June) the alligator finds himself with two thoughts on his mind, eating AND sex. The strain of this additional mental stimulation makes the gators quite edgy and aggressive. It is particularly good to avoid them at this time.

Gators who have been fed lose their fear of people. It is against the law to feed a wild alligator in Florida, but occasionally it happens. These alligators will eventually need to be destroyed, because their lack of fear will make them dangerous to people and domestic animals.

Not that I want to make alligators sound like monsters, they aren't. They are just large and potentially dangerous wild animals who need to be treated with respect. I don't worry about them when I go out in my boat, but I don't mess with them during mating season either.

So, here are some do's and don't's for living around alligators:

swim only where you can see clearly around you, with a firm sandy bottom and no grasses nearby
stay close to your dogs and children, keeping an eye out for trouble
if you see an alligator nearby: GET OUT OF THE WATER.
if someone warns you to get out of the water: GET OUT OF THE WATER.
if you have water near your home make sure your property is fenced. A fence won't stop a gator, but it will slow him down and it may stop a child or pet from wandering into danger.
swim in grassy, murky water
swim at feeding time (dusk, night or dawn)
swim anywhere you see alligators in the water (seems like a no-brainer, doesn't it?)
take your dog (or your chicken) running along the grassy edge of a lake or canal
feed alligators or attempt to pet them
take any chances at all during mating season!

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