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Keeping Your Pet Safe From Alligator Attack

Updated on April 8, 2013

Alligators May Attack Pets

Alligators do eat pets. The American alligator lives in an area that is larger than many people realize. They not only live in Florida but range as far west as Texas and as far north as North Carolina. Florida has a healthy and growing population of alligators, which occupy nearly every body of fresh water in the state.

Florida Alligator


Alligators Generally Avoid Humans

Human-alligator encounters do happen. Although some years do not see any fatal attacks, other years have seen as many as four. These numbers appear low in comparison to many other deadly animal encounters. This may be due to the alligator being primarily water-bound. Most people living in alligator territory know how to avoid them. It seems those visiting alligator territory are rarely as well informed.

Unsafe Proximity to Alligators

Below are pictures of a Florida pet owner walking her dogs too close to alligators. A woman with a foreign accent (not from Florida) walked her dogs on a long leash near the water. The bank from the water to the sidewalk measured roughly thirty to forty feet. Her leash extended over fifteen feet. She was allowing her dogs to run down the bank to the length of her leash, putting them within fifteen feet of the water. A seven-foot alligator swam across the retention pond toward them while they walked. The seven-foot alligator changed its course repeatedly to follow the dogs as they moved along the slope. Despite being warned, the woman allowed her dogs to play on the bank. The alligator swiftly popped up out of the water and the woman ran with her dogs. She left the area swiftly, hopefully the wiser.

Alligator Stalks Two Small Dogs

Alligator crosses lake to come in close
Alligator crosses lake to come in close | Source
Dogs run down bank
Dogs run down bank | Source
Seconds before lunging forward
Seconds before lunging forward | Source
Alligator began a lunge toward dogs
Alligator began a lunge toward dogs | Source
Alligator close up. Pupils are dilated.
Alligator close up. Pupils are dilated.

Safe Distance

Local Florida wisdom tells that one should stay at least ten to fifteen feet from the water to be safe from an alligator attack. Some suggest greater distances of twenty to sixty feet. Alligator experts, the late Steve Irwin included, say that alligators will most often avoid contact with humans. This is not true of smaller animals, especially dogs and cats. Alligators see these animals as potential meals. Every now and then, a pet goes missing and is never seen again. Though the cause of death in such cases is a mystery, alligators are often blamed. Some pet owners are not so lucky however, being on-scene during alligator attacks to their pets.

Small alligator crosses a channel
Small alligator crosses a channel | Source

Control Your Pet

The size of the pet is an important factor. Small animals are easier prey than larger ones. The pet cannot be expected to know what is best. It is up to the pet owner to take caution. Keeping pets away from waters that contain alligators is fairly simple. Though the sidewalk from the above account runs between two ponds, it is fairly simple to keep pets twenty-five feet or more from the water. At another location nearby, pet owners routinely let their dogs off their leashes near a major waterway. An alligator reported to be fourteen-feet in length has been seen swimming by the pet running area. The protection for these pets is a mere growth of cattails along the bank. Some of the dogs run within five feet of the water. Avoiding such a scenario seems simple. Dogs enjoy running without leashes but pet owners should keep dogs leashed if the animal strays toward the water’s edge when loose.

Alligator comes in for closer look

Keeping Pets Safe From Alligators

Keeping safe from alligators is actually quite simple. Florida waters are known to contain alligators. It is not safe to assume that any body of fresh water is alligator-free. Pet owners should keep their pets under good control. A distance of 25 feet or more from the water is not a bad idea. Keeping clear of the water’s edge means keeping your pet safe.

This hub is intended to be commentary and should not be used as an official source for alligator safety.


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    • Brad Beard profile image

      Brad Beard 6 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida

      The camera shakes in the video as I did a quick check over my shoulder for the larger alligator in the earlier pictures.