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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.