Friday, May 6, 2011

Dog Safety During Gator Mating Season

by Carrie Boyko, CEB
© Carrie Boyko
Tanner Tackles his Gator Toy
Here in Florida, as well as across the south from the Carolinas into Texas, the alligator is our toughest predator. There's a reason this fella is the official reptile of Florida, and it isn't because of that university in Gainesville!


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.

15 comments:



Jan said...

Having an alligator come into a house via the pet door is about as frightening a story as I have ever heard.



Carrie, with Tanner and Oliver said...

We've had neighbors with gators in their pool, and of course have witnessed many in our area's lakes and along swimming areas. They prefer quiet areas and will generally avoid noisy, busy lakes, such as those with lots of boat traffic.



K-Koira said...

Oregon isn't a place we find gators, but we do have coyotes, and it is the time of year that they are raising young. My dog was chased and bitten just yesterday by what was most likely a female coyote protecting pups or a den.



Carrie, with Tanner and Oliver said...

Yikes! We live on a lake and near a state park. A bear lives in the woods across the street, and he is often seen walking our streets at night. I sure hope he/she never has babies nearby. I know that could be very dangerous for our neighborhood pets.



sam said...

Gators! Wow! All we have to worry about where I live are coyotes and bears and skunks!
Stay safe!
Sam



cstironkat said...

We don't have gators here in Missouri, but we do have venimous snakes and since we live on a wooded lot, I have to worry about it.



24 Paws of Love said...

Sounds terrifying! I don't know how you guys do it living around those creatures. Those things scare the hell out of me! BOL! Sounds like great advice. Stay safe yourself.



Nanny McFur said...

Wow, the worst thing we have to worry about here is a mosquito bite!



browndogcbr said...

Hi Y'all,

I haven't been able to swim this year 'cause of a big gator thats been in our inlet. You can hear them in the evening and sometimes early morning. They have a rather distinctive call.

Here they shoot them dead when they get too big. They've killed some gators way bigger than 12 feet.

We know they are very active nearby 'cause only one pair of geese has any young. The nesting mallards had young, but only have 2 remaining. Papa saw one laying near my potty spot that was a small one about 9 ft.

The best protection is a leash or a strong "leave it" and recall. I'm never, ever outside alone. A human is always with me.

Yes we have poisonous snakes here and in the mountains. We also have bears and coyotes in the mountains. I train daily so I can earn off leash time.

Hawk aka BrownDog



Zbird said...

I think we would just purchase a small splash pool at a dime store. You could fill it up with cool water and no gators! Be Careful!



Michelle said...

This is so scary, right? Especially since Hazel has just recently developed a love for water and I just can't keep her out of it. I've had to start putting her on a leash again for this very reason, and it stinks! That girl needs way more activity than a leash walk can give her....back to the bike now. Thanks for the info!



Melissa said...

Great blog name - totally drew me in! I saw you at A Mommy's Sweet Blog Friday hop. I'm your new liker on FB.

http://www.meldreamsoften.com



Carrie, with Tanner and Oliver said...

Welcome Melissa! I'll check out your site too. Has April helped you out?



Vitamins For Dogs said...

Hello Friends! Thanks for providing us such an excellent & descriptive stuff.Awesome blog. I enjoyed reading your articles. This is truly a great read for me. Keep up the good work!



Labradoodle Breeders said...

Absolutely Fantastic post, Thanks for sharing with us. i am a fan of all dogs, but mainly I'm a fan of my two dogs, Macy and Emma. Both my dogs were pound puppies, and I strongly recommend going to your nearby shelter if you're thinking about a new pet. If you are indeed ready then think of all the rewards and love you will reap from this relationship.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
 
Blog Design by A Mommy's Blog Design (© Copyright 2011)
Header Banner created by Bill Henderson Design