Unwelcome alligator shows up in Plant City backyard as mating season gets underway

 A Plant City woman recently had an unwelcome visitor when an 8-foot alligator showed up in her backyard.

Karen Neumann had no idea a scaly, toothy, uninvited guest was hanging out on her property until she heard a knock at the door and a man delivered the news early Sunday night.

"He says, ‘Ma’am, I don’t know if you know it, but you have an eight-foot alligator on the other side of the RV’, and I said, ‘What!,"  exclaimed Neumann.

Sure enough, when she checked, the man was right. She was especially concerned because her grandkids and dogs were at the house. Eventually, a trapper came and hauled the gator off.

This time of year, gators showing up in unwanted places is more common than ever.

Experts say they are usually males looking for love. It is not unusual for them to leave their home and walk miles looking for a mate.

"It is getting hotter, so the males are going pond to pond," said Karina Panner, co-owner of Crock Encounters. "So they are kind of all over the place."

Panner, a licensed trapper, has removed gators from under vehicles, parking lots, culvert pipes and pools.

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An eight-footer may seem like a big one, but in the scheme of things, Panner says it is not.

"The record size is 19 feet, two inches, so they can definitely be giants," she explained.

There are more than 100 gators that live at Croc Encounters, which she co-owns with her husband, John.

Unlike the Panners, Neumann is not a gator-lover.

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Without a second thought, she said, "Don’t like ‘em.’"

Experts have some common sense gator safety tips.

Don’t harass, approach or feed gators. If one shows up at your house or in your pool, call a trapper to remove it.

To report a troublesome gator, call the Florida Nuisance Alligator Hotline at (866) 392-4286.