Florida wildlife is just as natural as it is dangerous. Last year, a boy from a Nebraska family drowned in a lake at a Disney World resort, this year a couple from Missouri were almost attacked by an Alligator sunning itself on a bank because they got too close with their camera. You may have seen the news with a video of a large gator called Humpback on social media walking across the field. Several years ago a New York woman visiting Florida was almost attacked in the face from pushing her camera too close to a sunning gator on someone's lawn.

Yes, this happens all too often with gators and visitors in Florida, but here are some things to help you with looking at wildlife.

Aware of surroundings

"Yes, they are all around us," Debby Cassil the associate professor at USF in Saint Pete said to the Tampa Bay Times, "They are as leery of us as we are of them." Alligators hunt mostly around sundown or at night. They are less active in winter months and during the day, but their diet consists mostly of fish, snakes, turtles, birds and small mammals like raccoons or opossums. Attacks on humans are rare, sometimes it is likely due to being too close to water plants that crowd themselves together and you don't know there's a gator swimming or doing water activities near night.

Just keep in mind that alligators are never docile.

General safety tips

  • Never walk your pets or yourself close to a lake. Always stay a safe distance away from the water and any weeds or areas where you are unable to see an alligator clearly. Alligators have been known to grab small dogs and cats if they leer too close and can attack humans if they venture near weeds and are unable to detect their presence.
  • Never approach an alligator for photos. You can use your zooming action on your camera for pictures, but always make sure you have enough distance between you and an alligator, especially if they are sunning or walking around for a better spot.
  • Never feed an alligator. This can cause them to approach humans and create a hostile condition in which humans can get attacked. If you see someone feeding a gator, report it to the Florida Fish and Wildlife authorities.

Always keep these three simple rules in mind and you and your interactions with alligators can go smoothly.