'Leave it alone': Florida alligators on the move ahead of mating season start

When the calendar reaches April our alligator friends instinctively know, it’s mating season again. This especially means the males are on the move.               

"During mating season, a lot of younger male alligators are getting pushed out of their homes by the big males," said Dan Costell, associate curator for reptiles and fish at Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park. 

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), mating usually occurs in May or June. Females typically form nests in August and September, where they will then lay on average between 30 and 50 eggs in late June or early July. Hatching takes place August through September.

"If you see an alligator leave it alone, give it its distance," Costell said. 

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While giving an alligator its distance is important year-round, it's especially important during mating season. FWC is reminding folks to only swim in designated areas during daylight hours and keep pets away from fresh or brackish water.

"Sometimes those males can get a little aggressive, maybe they'll go after a canoe that comes into their area," Costell said.  "Females they'll protect their nest, and they'll watch over the young for a year. They can be a bit more aggressive," he added.  

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Officials also said you should never feed an alligator.

"Once you start feeding them they lose the fear of the people then we have problems," he said.