LAKEWOOD RANCH, Fla. -- As the weather warms up, alligators get more active and some are making their way into homeowners’ pools.
When Jerry and Judy Zivic moved to Lakewood Ranch from Chicago, they quickly learned an important lesson. “If you stay away from alligators, they stay away from you,” said Judy Zivic.
But what if the gator finds you? Around 2:30 Wednesday morning noise outside woke Jerry up.
Jerry Zivic said, “I turned the pool light on it was a gator. Being the good husband I am I woke up my wife asked what do we do next?”
An 8 foot 8 inch, 250-pound alligator broke through the pool screen and went for a swim.
“He was virtually motionless the whole time until FWC arrived,” said Zivic.
It’s the third one in a week. On Friday, an 11-foot alligator was pulled out of a Sarasota homeowner’s pool and that same night a 6-foot gator was removed from a pool in North Port by FWC officer Brian Norris.
“This time of year, the weather is warming up, alligators become more active, their metabolism speeds up. They’re out looking for food, venture further out,” said Officer Norris. He added, “A lot of times, they end up in a place where they won’t normally be seen, like somebody’s pool, under a car, or in the middle of the road.”
It’s as if the pool gets in the path of the gator. “Yes, they’re not actively seeking pools to hang out in. If that were the case, we’d have more of these calls,” said Norris.
FWC says typically animals who come across a barrier like a pool screen turn around and go the other way.
“Make sure your screens are fully intact and there are no holes, not loose. that goes for wildlife, not just alligators. If there’s a way for an animal to get in like an alligator or raccoon, they’ll end up on your back porch.”
Judy says with alligator mating season coming up in May and June, she will be looking outside before opening the door and under her car more often. Jerry said, “You have to look before you leap. Very true here in Florida, if you have a pool look before you leap.”
In 2017, FWC receives 13,210 nuisance alligator complaints, 8,455 were removed.
The number of attacks is much higher than deaths from 1948. Until last year, 24 people in Florida have been killed by alligators, but 401 have been attacked.
If you need help with a nuisance alligator: Call the Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286).
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