If you enjoy interacting with wildlife, Okeechobee is the perfect place for you to visit or make your home. From safaris to parks, there are several opportunities to get up close and personal with nature. While most of what you find in nature is as harmless as an ant, there are some creatures out there you simply do not want to tangle with, like alligators.
No matter your region, tales of brazen alligators in Florida frightening or approaching humans can be found. Whether you live here or are visiting the area on holiday, knowing how to deal with an alligator encounter can be the difference between serious injury and making it home safely.
According to GatorWorld Parks in Florida, this is what you should do if you encounter an alligator in Okeechobee.
1. Stay Back
If you are lucky enough to spot an alligator from afar, stay back. You should try to keep more than 30 feet between you and the animal. If you can hear the alligator hissing at you, you are too close. Back away while keeping your eye on the animal.
2. Stick to the Sun
If the movie Jaws hasn’t ruined your love of swimming in waters that are less than clear, at least stay out of rivers and lakes after the sun goes down. Alligators are most active between dusk and dawn. If you want to go swimming, do so during the daylight hours to reduce your chances of encountering an alligator.
3. They’re Quick
You should know that despite the way they look, alligators can move quite fast. If you get too close to one, you should try to gauge its next move. If it begins to move toward you, back away slowly. If it speeds up, turn and run.
4. Know Their Habitat
Alligators love to sun themselves, and they tend to sun along the banks of water. This means that if you are walking through a park, you are more likely to see an alligator along the edge of the water than in the middle of a trail.
5. Don’t Fish
If you fish in any of Florida’s waterways, don’t play a game of “I was here first!” with an alligator. If you see a gator moving toward your spot, pack up and move — you aren’t going to win that battle. If you catch fish and decide to clean them on the spot, don’t throw scraps into the water. Those scraps will encourage alligators to approach, especially the hungry ones.
6. Don’t Feed the Gators
Feeding ducks is relatively safe. Throwing bread into the water for fish is a fun thing to do. Feeding alligators is foolish. Don’t take any kind of food to the water’s edge with the idea that you are going to feed some wild gators. If you are having a picnic, make sure everything you brought with you goes home with you or is placed in a proper trash receptacle to avoid possible injury by an alligator.
7. Avoid Piles of Grass
If you are walking near the water’s edge, avoid piles of twigs, sticks and grass. You could be looking at an alligator nest, which is often paired with an aggressive female poised to defend it. Don’t try to get close enough to determine if it is a nest; it is better to avoid the area.
If an Alligator Comes Close to You…
What happens, though, when you aren’t taking a walk, but minding your own business at home? You walk out of your door after dark because you think you hear something, only to find an alligator on your porch.
The first thing you want to do is to get back inside. Don’t chase the animal or try to shoo it away. Once you are safely inside, pick up the phone and call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission Alligator Nuisance Line at 888-FWC-GATOR. If a wildlife official is not available to respond immediately, they can at least give you instructions.
Wildlife officials recommend that if you want to see alligators, you do so in a controlled environment. If you are interested in seeing alligators in Okeechobee, you can visit:
- Gatorama Alligator Farm and Family Destination
- Everglade Alligator Farm
There are other parks throughout southern Florida that will allow you and your family to see and learn about these amazing animals. While you are visiting, make sure you follow the rules set forth by the park in order to maintain your safety and that of the animals.
Speak with a Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you are injured by an animal in Okeechobee, and that animal and/or your safety was someone else’s responsibility, please reach out to our office. We have experienced personal injury attorneys ready to assist you. You don’t have to suffer financial difficulty because of someone’s negligence or error. Reach out to our office today to schedule your free case evaluation.