Alligators, crocodiles bring potential danger during mating season

WESTON, Fla. (WSVN) – An alligator sighting isn’t unheard of in South Florida, but if there is ever a relatively close encounter, locals and visitors should know what to do in such a situation.

One of the best ways to react upon seeing an alligator is to get away regardless of size. Once an alligator attacks, according to experts, it is extremely difficult to retrieve whatever they have in their mouth. A seven-foot-long alligator may seem small. However, it is relatively the same size as the alligator that dragged and killed a 2-year-old boy at a Disney resort, Tuesday night.

The grip of an alligator’s bite is 3,000 pounds of pressure per square inch. It has the strongest bite force in the animal kingdom. “A small car, medium car, weighs about 3,000 pounds,” said wildlife specialist Brett Berger at Sawgrass Recreation Park. “That’s roughly the weight you would feel per tooth in the mouth. The car’s weight per tooth, so there’s not any really getting away from that.”

It’s that deadly grip that turned a family vacation at Walt Disney World in Orlando into a living nightmare. A father and mother desperately tried to save their 2-year-old son after the gator pulled the toddler into the Seven Seas Lagoon at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.

“Reports say 7 or 8 feet [in length], and at this size, while that isn’t anywhere near full size, for an alligator, that’s deadly,” Berger said.

In an interview with CNN, Zoo Miami’s Ron Magill explained the reasoning for the attack. “Incredibly rare for gators to be attacking people, but this is a small child who was in the water at night, shallow end of water,” he said. “That gator could have mistaken it for a raccoon, a possum. It’s a normal feeding time.”

In Florida, there are about 1.5 million alligators in our waters. “We have to assume that every single body of water has an alligator in it,” said Jim Leljedal, who is with the Sawgrass Recreational Park.

Experts urge people to be mindful of these statistics because, once an alligator attacks, there isn’t much you can do to stop it. To keep safe, officials advise you to be aware of surroundings and avoid swimming at night. “They’re largely nocturnal and undercover at night. Being an ambush predator, that’s more likely the time they are going to hunt,” Berger said.

Due to the gators’ current mating season, which will soon become their nesting period, alligators and even crocodiles are more likely to act aggressively. “You shouldn’t be walking along the lake’s edges, canals, especially now. The next couple of months, alligators are nesting,” Magill said on CNN. “This is when they will come after you on land.”

If you see an alligator or crocodile in your neighborhood, do not approach it and call authorities.

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