Friday, March 29, 2019

A Florida Lizard ... Wait...

I'm probably more tired of Florida man stories than most of you.  I reflexively look to see if they're from my city in hopes that it's not someone I've met.  So far it has always been someone I don't know and only been from this county a couple of times. 

But Florida Lizard stories?  I have yet to see any stories starting with "a Florida Reptile..." but I did get an email from the state Fish and Wildlife Commission about "living with alligators".  They provided a helpful pdf, which is this handy poster.

I'll modify this and make my own rules.
  1. The alligator has the right of way  If the alligator comes to your door, don't open the door.  If you're not sure, and you don't see anyone through a peephole, a security camera or something else, ignore the knock and listen for sounds of scratching or clawing.  See the hotline number in that poster.  If you're on the road and come across a gator, don't attempt to run it over.  Unless you have a 4x4 with lots of ground clearance, and then only if you're sure your truck won't tip over.  That was a joke.  Gators are protected species and you shouldn't run them over.
  2. Never feed an alligator.  Gators aren't known for being the sharpest knives in the drawer, so to speak.  You can expect them to mistake the hand offering food for the food being offered.  You don't want to go through the rest of your life being called "Stumpy".  Although it might give you a good bar story. 
  3. Keep your pets away from the water, especially small white dogs or cats.  If you're new here, know that an old story you hear often in Florida is that gators love marshmallows.  White, fluffy marshmallows.  I've always thought that's why they have a preference for small, fluffy, white poodles.  Maybe they just don't like yapping dogs.  I've never heard of them eating a cat, but I wouldn't doubt it.
  4. Don't go swimming if you know there are gators in the water.   Corollary: if your map says "Florida" on it, and you're in fresh water, there are gators in there.  If it's brackish or saltwater, there might be crocodiles with you.  Yeah, it's riskier after dark because they are more active.  It's probably riskiest at sunrise and sunset.  A few years ago, a burglary suspect in nearby Palm Bay decided to hide from police in a lake.  It was early morning, like 2AM.  The gators said "thanks for the meals on wheels" and ate the guy.  Just kidding.  They just killed him and ate pieces. 
  5. When in doubt, remember rule #1.  And remember two things.  First, a gator can sprint faster than you can run for short distances.  They're ambush-style predators and not likely to just attack you on land.  If they're hungry, you're close and not aware, I don't rule it out.  Second, the gators have learned how to climb fences.

Every long time Floridian has some gator stories.


  1. I’ll take my chances with mountain lions. Gators aren’t my favorite lizards.

  2. The moment you enter any body of water in Florida, you are no longer a top of the food chain.

    And that include pools and bathrooms.

  3. I agree, except number 3. I would change it to: Keep your small children and pets away from the water...

    Small children look just like small pets, and are more vulnerable because they cannot run as fast.

    1. Can't argue with that.

      I recall a little kid getting grabbed by a gator in a Disney resort within the last couple of years. IIRC, playing on the beach, not too far from the parents. What an awful thing to go through.

  4. This makes me think about upgrading my EDC to your basic howdah pistol.

    I was getting some training in the Brunswick Georgia area, and I noticed that some people didn't take the gator warnings seriously.
    Darwin always has the last word.

    1. I could do a half hour standup on this.

      There's a large gator population on the KSC; it's a wildlife refuge, after all. On a regular basis, some tourist stops the car on the side of the road and gets out to take a picture. This goes back past the "selfie generation".

      The best shot to get a gator to stop moving is a brain shot, (duh) but they have a small particle of brain lodged in a thick skull. I've heard, but can't verify, guys have shot for the brain case with .308 (yes, out of a rifle) and the bullet ricocheted off the skull.

      Divers who go after sharks use a bangstick, a 12ga shell on a stick with way of firing the shell on contact. That would work, but you'd have to be within about 4' of the gator, so it had better work. (ooooh .... these guys have a 50BMG bangstick. It had better work.)

    2. The TV show, Swamp People on the History Channel shows alligator hunters killing alligators mostly with .22 cal rifles from almost contact distance range. I've heard some of the hunters say that the kill shot aim point is about the size of .25 cent piece. Missing the small target results in a stunned, undead gator that wakes up and has to be shot again, while the pissed off gator is in the restricted confines of their boat.

      Gators are known to be notoriously tough beasts, like most large wildlife. Shooting them with most any high power rifle or shotgun anywhere except for that small brain target will most likely result in a pissed off gator ready to strike back at whatever annoyed it and as noted in the article they can run faster than a human for short distances.


    3. A friend of mine is a gator trapper for the state of Florida. He uses a .44 cal bang stick. He puts a chicken on a hook attached to a piano wire, which he ties to a tree, throws in the water, and then leaves overnight. The gator gets hooked and settles to the bottom. When my friend returns, he pulls on the wire until the gator gets to shore, then uses the bang stick to dispatch the alligator.

  5. The only time I was ever late to formation was in Pensacola. I was 20 minutes late to morning PT because a gator was hanging out just outside my door.

  6. The idiots who go to Florida to golf are the worst. (Well, after the idiots who go to Spring Training, but in a different way.)

    One guy a few years back lost a hand or an arm trying to get a golf ball out of a water hazard that was MARKED with a "Beware of Alligator" signs.

    Most people have seen the video of Chubbs, who is a regular on a Palmetto course. There is also Goliath who lives on an Englewood course.

    1. I was walking into work one morning before sunrise, and came close to stepping on one. Not a big gator, only four or five feet long, but big enough. The place I worked had a drainage pond, and one of the gators had come up onto the walkway. I thought it was palm frond until I got maybe 15 feet from it.