03 August 2011
Posted in NatureWorks
If “Shark Week” has made you fearful of jumping into the ocean, you might want to consider the dangers of tromping through American wetlands. Over the past decade, more people perished at the mouths of alligators than those of sharks in this country. Nine people have died from U.S. – based shark attacks, while 13 were mortal victims of alligator attacks.
Meanwhile, American crocodiles have never killed or even bitten anyone in their native Florida, but they certainly have the chops to do it. Three decades ago, their numbers had dwindled to about 300. Thanks to conservation efforts, they’ve moved off the Endangered Species list and now boast a current population close to 1,800.
In Florida, better enforcement of wildlife protection laws and suburban sprawl increase the chances of crossing paths with a croc or gator. So how do you take precautions to avoid a grisly crocodilian encounter? Both alligators and crocodiles are opportunists. They aren’t likely to go chasing you down on the poolside patio. Actually, if they’re out on land, they generally aren’t looking for prey.
However, if either reptile starts hissing or snapping at you, get out of his way, and if you can’t do that, call 911 and the operator will patch you through to a wildlife hotline. On a rare chance if you find yourself or a loved one clenched in the teeth of a crocodilian, experts say fight with all you’re might. Smack them and punch them in the nose, eyes, and head, and fight them with everything you have. Most of the time they’ll let go and move off.
At the Science Center, you can get up close and personal with gators in a much safer way. In NatureWorks, you’ll find several baby alligators in our swamp. And you can check out our live alligator feedings every day. Check program schedules for details!