Alligator and snake sightings on the rise

  • Published
  • By Kristal Walsh
  • 1st Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron
Snakes and alligators, just like other wildlife, are always present here at Hurlburt Field. However, the chances of encountering one of these cold-blooded creatures are greater than normal due to the increased levels of rain and flooding the area has faced recently.

Below are a few facts about alligators and snakes, some tips on how to prevent negative encounters, and what to do if you see one.

ALLIGATORS - Alligators can be found throughout Florida, are carnivorous, and can live about 50 years. Adults range between 8 and 11 feet long and have more than 75 teeth. Young alligators stay with their mother for two to three years or until they are driven out of the nest by larger alligators. Alligators go through a period of dormancy and can dig themselves into tunnels up to 65 feet in length where they are protected during the cold months.

· Never feed an alligator, it's dangerous and illegal. Feeding wildlife of any kind causes them to associate people with food and most often leads to their demise.

· On base, if an alligator is in the road, in your garage, or under your car, contact the Hurlburt Field Pest Management Shop immediately at 850-884-6173. Otherwise, call 1-866-FWC-GATOR.

· If you or your pet is bitten by an alligator, seek immediate medical attention.

· Do not approach an alligator; observe from a distance only.

SNAKES - All native wildlife, even the venomous reptiles, are an integral part of our ecosystem here in Northwest Florida. They are also protected on Hurlburt Field. There are more than three dozen species of snakes found in our area, only four of which are venomous. The four venomous species are the eastern diamondback rattlesnake, pygmy rattlesnake, cottonmouth or water mocassin, and the coral snake.

If you encounter a snake, keep your distance. Under no circumstances should you attempt to capture or relocate a snake yourself. The vast majority of snakebites are the result of inexperienced persons handling snakes or individuals trying to kill snakes. Most importantly, tell your children to watch out for snakes and if they see one, leave it alone.

· Avoid putting hands in low growing vegetation

· Always wear shoes when going outdoors, especially at night

· Eliminate creating a potential habitat by pruning shrubbery up off the ground, remove brushy areas and wood piles