Seeing an American crocodile from a distance is a special experience for those visiting or living in South Florida and the Keys. However, as the population of this recovering species increases, so do the number of calls received by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) from people who are concerned by their presence. Conflicts between the shy and reclusive American crocodile and people are extremely rare in Florida. A new video from the FWC offers safety advice to help people continue to safely co-exist with this unique native species.
The FWC’s 90-second Living with American Crocodiles video outlines simple precautions people can take to avoid conflicts with crocodiles, such as:
- Keep a safe distance if you see a crocodile. Be aware that crocodiles often will bask with an open mouth to regulate their body temperature and there’s no cause for concern if you see this behavior.
- Swim only in designated swimming areas and only during daylight hours. Crocodiles are most active between dusk and dawn.
- Keep pets on a leash and away from the water, even designated swimming areas, because they can resemble the crocodile’s natural prey.
- Never feed crocodiles – it is illegal and dangerous. When fed, they can overcome their natural wariness and learn to associate people with food.
- Dispose of fish scraps in designated waste containers because discarding scraps in the water may attract crocodiles. Also, avoid feeding other aquatic animals, such as ducks, because that also can attract crocodiles.
The FWC takes public safety seriously and administers a program designed to be proactive and responsive. People who are concerned about a crocodile should call 866-392-4286 (866-FWC-GATOR) and one of our crocodile response agents will respond.
The American crocodile is an endangered species success story in Florida. Their numbers have recovered from less than a few hundred to about 2,000 adult crocodiles today. The American crocodile is now classified as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Crocodiles live in coastal areas throughout the Caribbean and occur at the northern end of their range in south Florida. The Sunshine State is the only place in the U.S. where people can see an American crocodile in the wild. They most commonly occur in brackish and saltwater habitats, such as ponds, coves and tidal creeks lined with mangroves. They are sometimes found inland in freshwater habitats due to south Florida’s canal system.
For more information on living with crocodiles, visit MyFWC.com/Crocodile.