SARASOTA COUNTY, Florida – Homeowners in Sarasota County, Florida discovered an unwelcomed guest when an 11-foot alligator decided to take a dip in their swimming pool Friday night.
The giant reptile broke through the pool’s screen enclosure in order to gain access to man-made pond.
The Sarasota Sheriff’s Office videotaped the animal encounter as a wildlife trapper pulled the alligator from the swimming pool.
It is Spring in Florida, which means that lovesick alligators are on the move during mating season.
Statewide, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission receives an average of nearly 16,000 alligator-related complaints per year. Most of these complaints deal with alligators occurring in places such as backyard ponds, canals, ditches and streams, but other conflicts occur when alligators wander into garages, swimming pools and golf course ponds.
Since 1948, Florida has averaged about five unprovoked bites per year. During that period, a little more than 300 unprovoked bites to people have been documented in Florida, with 22 resulting in deaths.
Alligators are opportunistic predators with an indiscriminate appetite that includes fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, and even fruit. Because of their predatory nature, alligators may target people, pets and livestock as food.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission gives the following 10 tips to Floridians on how to live with alligators:
1. Never feed alligators because it is dangerous and illegal. When fed, alligators can overcome their natural wariness and learn to associate people with food. When this happens, some of these alligators have to be removed and killed.
2. Dispose of fish scraps in garbage cans at boat ramps and fish camps. Do not throw them into the water. Although you are not intentionally feeding alligators when you do this, the result can be the same.
3. Seek immediate medical attention if you are bitten by an alligator. Alligator bites can result in serious infections.
4. Observe and photograph alligators only from a distance.
5. Be aware of the possibility of alligators when you are in or near fresh or brackish water. Bites may occur when people do not pay close enough attention to their surroundings when working or recreating near water.
6. Do not swim outside of posted swimming areas or in waters that might be inhabited by large alligators.
7. Alligators are most active between dusk and dawn. So, avoid swimming at night.
8. Dogs and cats are similar in size to the natural prey of alligators. Don’t allow pets to swim, exercise or drink in or near waters that may contain alligators. Keep pets on a leash.
9. Do not swim with your dog. Dogs often attract an alligator’s interest.
10. Leave alligators alone. State law prohibits killing, harassing or possessing alligators. Handling even small alligators can result in injury.
People with concerns about an alligator should call the FWC’s toll-free Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program (SNAP) Hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR (392-4286). SNAP uses contracted nuisance alligator trappers throughout the state to remove alligators four-feet in length or greater that are believed to pose a threat to people, pets or property.
Photo and video credit: Sarasota County Sheriff’s Department