|© Carrie Boyko|
Tanner Tackles his Gator Toy
It's May and that means gator mating season is peaking. This may sound natural and harmless, but actually it means more activity and more roaming. Both male and female gators expand their territories during April and May as they seek out mating partners. The mating period lasts through May when mating occurs during the night, generally in shallow waters.
This time of year is a dangerous time for our canine friends to be in fresh water after late afternoon. Gators become active just before dusk, seeking both food and mating partners. Shallow water, however, is of particular danger. Gators spend their days lazing in these areas, hunkering down in the mud or lying in wait in the marshy, weedy areas where they are less visible.
Taking your dog to a fresh water area to swim or play fetch along a shore line may sound like a ton of fun, but there are hazards to be aware of. Fido can be at a particularly high risk when these critters are feeling pretty fiesty during mating season. The erratic movement of a swimming or playing dog attracts the attention of this fierce predator from a fair distance, and he may wander over--under water--to check out what the fuss is all about. When Fido starts to bark, it's all over. Gators may frequently take a dog by surprise, rising up out of the depths near a dog and hauling it away to its 'locker' deep under the water.
A small to medium dog is at greatest risk, of course, but larger dogs have been known to be taken by mature male gators, that can reach lengths of 12 feet and weigh nearly half a ton. Although large gators such as this are considered a danger and are often ordered removed by professionals, the hunt can often be trying and unsuccessful.
If your large swimmer simply must have a dip, the safest place to swim is in the middle of a large lake during midday, where these predators don't venture as often. Be sure to avoid early morning and late afternoon and evening, when gators become more active as they seek food and mating partners.
Another extra precaution to take is a super-thick life vest. Although this will not protect Fido from the strong bite of a large gator, it may give him some relief if attacked by a smaller one. Your best bet? Leave your fresh water swimming expeditions for cooler weather when gators are not as active. October through March is much safer.
Finally, whenever you allow Fido to swim in fresh water lakes or rivers where gators may be present, using a long leash, attached to a harness, can give you a chance at assisting him, if your worst fear occurs. Likewise, if you walk your dog along a fresh water area known to be inhabited by gators, always use a leash. Better safe than sorry.
I'll be back soon to talk more about Gator safety during the hatching and trapping seasons. There's nothing nastier than a momma gator with a nest of babies to protect. Stay tuned for my next post, coming in June.
I know this information has not been my usual perky menu. Just to say thank you for reading this important warning, I'm going to give away 3 gator toys for you to get back in a playful mood with your pup. Read the Gator Toy Giveaway article on Sunday to learn more.
BTW, if you are interested to learn whether you were a winner in the handbag drawing, be sure to check that post Friday, May 6, to learn your fate. Watch for the Kurgo Cargo winner to be announced on Saturday, May 7.
Today is one of our favorite blog hop days. We'll be participating in the Saturday Pet Blogger Hop, hosted by Life with Dogs, Confessions of the Plume and Two Little Cavaliers. The linky list will follow this post, so feel free to enjoy some bouncing fun. In addition, I've hooked up to a Friday hop with blog designer April. Be sure to stop in and thank all of our hosts for sharing their webspace with you. Don't forget to leave some comment luv behind. It's good karma!
Sources: Smithsonian National Zoo, LakeOkeechobee.org, Florida Environment audio programs, Florida Outdoors.