Mating season means active alligators

It's the season of love for Florida alligators. Mating season has begun and typically lasts through June.

Residents across the Tampa Bay area are starting to see alligators move from nearby bodies of water, like lakes and retention ponds, to their doorsteps, as male gators search for female mates.

According to alligator experts, the hotter weather is also impacting their movement.

"They are cold-blooded animals. Once it starts warming up, their bodies start warming up, and they start traveling," said Karina Paner, an alligator trapper and director at Croc Encounters in Tampa.

Paner said alligator mating season is the time of year when trappers get the most calls to catch nuisance gators.

"We just had one, in fact, the other day. It was a 5-foot alligator, and he was under someone's car," said Paner.

The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office posted a picture to social media showing a gator that strolled onto the tennis courts at the Englewood Sports Complex the southern part of the county.

Polk County resident Jeanne Smith snapped a picture of an alligator at her front door over the weekend.

"Males are on the move searching for females. Males are pushing smaller males out of their territories, and those smaller ones are out looking for new spots," explained Paner.

While it maybe tempting to want to get close to alligators to take pictures, experts say it's better to keep your distance and call a trapper if the gator is a nuisance.

"Definitely don't feed alligators. That's a very big problem. Alligators are normally afraid of people, but once people start feeding them, they lose that fear, then they start approaching people. That's where we run into trouble," Paner advised.

Anyone who spots a nuisance gator, which is typically an alligator that is longer than four feet, can contact the FWC through its nuisance alligator hotline at 1-866-FWC-GATOR (1-866-392-4286).


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