“I don’t want to live near water, because I’m deathly afraid of alligators!” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone tell Susan this at the beginning stage of their home search on Sanibel. While I totally understand each person has their own fears and phobias, I’m here to help those whose fear of alligators is simply due to the unfamiliarity of this wildlife animal, and explain why we don’t fear alligators on Sanibel.
Yes, There Are Alligators on Sanibel…
However, there have been very few reports of alligator attacks on the island. That’s because we know and understand how to live alongside these and the many other wildlife animals that inhabit the island.
You see, alligators prey on small animals such as birds, raccoons, turtles and, yes, small dogs. However, they don’t go hunting in the woods or rummaging through your yard for food. Alligators usually prey on easy, unsuspecting targets near the shoreline.
So, what’s the best way to protect yourself and your animals from alligators?
Stay alert while walking along the shoreline!
Susan and I have two dogs and four kids living at our lakefront home here on Sanibel, and we have never (knock on wood) had an incident. We are mindful when our dogs or children are playing outside, making sure they are aware of their surroundings and staying away from the shoreline. We’ve also made it a point to keep our shoreline area un-attractive for alligators to plop down and sunbathe.
You see, gators enjoy nice grassy shorelines to stretch out and soak up the rays. Understanding this, and what attracts the attention of alligators has helped our family and the other island residents to safely co-habit with these reptiles.
Safety Tips For Living With Alligators On Sanibel
- Do not work with your back to the water, that includes gardening in the yard, or playing with kids and animals near the shoreline, etc.
- Do not swim in bodies of water where alligators are known to inhabit, such as the lakes, canals and rivers on Sanibel. You should also be aware of your surrounds when swimming on the bay side the island or near mangroves.
- Never feed the alligators! This is how alligators come to associate humans with food.
There Once Was A Lady…
I tell this story often, but it drives home a very important point. There once was a lady who used to throw out her dinner scraps or the remains of her chicken carcasses to the alligators behind her home somewhere in Florida. One day when she went to leave her house, there was an alligator waiting for her at her back door. She went to the front door to try an leave, but found the alligator had ran around the house and met her on the porch. The gator was simply waiting for his next meal, however it was trapping her in her own home!
In fact, she had to call wildlife management to help her escape. While this is an extreme example, I share this story with you not to scare you, but rather to explain how feeding alligators is dangerous and confusing for all parties involved.
Learn More About Alligators On Sanibel
Anyways, I hope this blog helps shed some light on the topic, and maybe even reduced your fear of alligators. I’d be happy to share more about my experience living on Sanibel and the safety precautions we use as a family. The City of Sanibel is another great resource, offering safety tips and more informaiton on their website. Click here to read the “Things Your Should Know” about alligators.