Alligators, snakes and bears, oh my! How Floridians can avoid unwanted animal encounters this spring

Alligators, snakes and bears, oh my! How Floridians can avoid unwanted animal encounters this spring
American Alligator basking in sun, photo courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. (Andy Wraithmell)

ORLANDO, Fla. — Florida wildlife officials say spring is the time when many of the state’s creatures are the most active, meaning the most likely to have accidental encounters with humans.

“Spring is one of the best times to enjoy viewing wildlife with your family, but it is also a very important time of year for many vulnerable species, including sea turtles and beach-nesting birds.” said Melissa Tucker, deputy director of the FWC’s Division of Habitat and Species Conservation. “Be sure to keep a respectful distance from wildlife as you enjoy the outdoors this spring.”

Here’s which animals the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission advises us to look out for this time of year, and how we can avoid any unwanted altercations:

Content Continues Below

Alligators: FWC officials said when the weather warms up in the spring, alligators become more active and visible as they start searching for food. While serious injuries caused by alligators are rare in Florida, they said it’s important to be safe when in or near the water.

Bears: As spring temperatures warm, bears become more active, increasing the opportunities for conflicts with people, FWC officials say. During this time of year, females are teaching their cubs what to eat and the skills necessary to survive. FWC says you can do your part to make sure eating garbage, pet food or birdseed in your yard is not part of that learning experience by securing or removing those and other attractants. If they can’t find food around your home, bears will move on.

Bats: Bat maternity season began on April 15. FWC says maternity season is the time during which bats gather to give birth and raise their young, and it is illegal to exclude them during this time. Now is the best time to inspect your home for any small cracks or holes that might allow bats to get inside.

Snakes: FWC says snakes are most active in the spring and fall. If you encounter one, officials encourage you to just stand back and observe it. They said snakes don’t purposefully position themselves to frighten people. They’d much rather avoid encounters and usually will flee.

For a full list of animals more active during the spring, and how wildlife officials encourage you to handle possible encounters, click here.