Florida Travel Guide

Here’s Another Reason to Be Afraid of Florida

PHOTO: Sue Slick / Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Please do not underestimate the Floridian wildlife.

On Sunday, a video was taken of a large alligator climbing over a fence at Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida, flopping over to the other side of it, and strolling along on its way. The video was sent into local news station WJAX-TV by a viewer named Christina Stewart.

The NAS posted a link to the WJAX-TV video on their Facebook, stating, “If you are new to Florida or have been here for years, when you see water, assume an alligator could be in it.”

The intentions of the alligator are unknown.

So whether you’re visiting Florida or you’re a longtime resident of the Sunshine State know this: Alligators are everywhere and while climbing over fences may seem like new behavior for them, it actually isn’t. It has been previously reported that alligators are bad at climbing things, but not only does this particular alligator prove this belief false, these rapacious reptiles have actually been scaling fences for many years in Florida.

The intentions of the alligator are unknown, but it is to be believed that something the alligator wanted to do was on the other side of that fence, and this was the reason he decided to climb up it and flop over on the other side. No further videos were taken of this particular alligator after he walked away from the fence, although officials at the base stated that they weren’t planning on removing it from the property unless it posed a threat to anyone. Some might argue that it “being an alligator, in general,” could be considered threatening behavior, but officials at the base did not see it that way, actually.

“We have several [alligators] on the base and they don’t respect our security measures.”

Flopping over a fence is not an allowed way to enter the NAS, typically, but alligators are known rule breakers. The NAS also warned about alligators not caring about its other rules in its Facebook post:

“We have several [alligators] on the base and they don’t respect our security measures.”

But this is far from the only alligator news currently coming out of Florida. One was spotted swimming across a busy street last week in St. Petersburg, Florida—right in the middle of an intersection. Local resident Roger Light Jr. captured a video, and, naturally, posted it to Facebook. And back in July, a 15-foot alligator chased swimmers near the Gulf of Mexico in Florida.

How to Have a Safe Gator Experience in Florida

While all Florida residents and visitors are advised to be on the lookout (absolutely constantly) for alligators, a recent study found that Florida men make up the majority of attack victims, reportedly because they are more likely to try and feed the creatures. Let it be known that you should not, under any circumstances, do this–and that goes for everyone. Here are a few more general guidelines:

  • Always be aware of your surroundings, especially if you have children or small pets. Absolutely do not keep animals outside.
  • Gators have been known to hang out on golf courses, so golfers should also take special caution–don’t stick your hands into bushes or places you cannot fully see.
  • Never, under any circumstance, at all, approach an alligator. Feeding them is illegal.
  • Alligators are most active at night, so if you’re going to swim, do it during the daytime.

If you want to see an alligator, but also wish to be smart about it, Florida’s alligator theme park, Gatorland, is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. The park also features none other than: crocodiles. Guided airboat tours through the swamps of the Everglades are also available places like Sawgrass Recreation Park (and I, personally, can vouch for them firsthand).