It’s spring and love is in the air.
Some wild animals are courting now in Florida, bringing them into areas where people don’t usually see them.
That includes alligators.
For example on Friday, there were a trio of notable sightings across the region — from North Port to Fort Myers.
North Port Police posted a picture on Facebook Friday showing a smaller alligator under a vehicle in the parking lot of the Buffalo Wings & Rings there.
“It’s alligator mating season,” stated the post. “This one (is) looking for love in the parking lot... FWC (Florida Fish and Conversation Commission) en route.”
According to FWC, nearly all alligators become sexually mature by the time they reach approximately 7 feet in length, but females can reach maturity at 6 feet.
Females may require 10 to 15 years and a males 8 to 12 years to reach these lengths.
Then, courtship begins in early April, and mating occurs in May or June.
Ultimately, females build a nest of soil or vegetation and deposit an average of 32 to 46 eggs in late June or early July. The eggs incubate for about 63-68 days, and hatch from mid-August through early September, according to FWC.
Meanwhile in Fort Myers, there were also a couple sightings that went viral on social media Friday.
A large gator was caught on camera walking the busy and historic McGregor Boulevard.
Earlier that day, an 8-foot-long gator reportedly broke through the screen of a Fort Myers family’s lanai and camped out on their porch.
According to a Fort Myers Police Department Facebook post, the family called police after they spotted it, and the gator was captured by FWC to be relocated.
Gators can become more aggressive during mating season and the last two fatal attacks in Florida occurred during the season, according to Tampa Bay Times reports.
In order to keep pets and residents safe, FWC has released the following tips:
• Never feed an alligator. It’s illegal and causes alligators to overcome their natural wariness and learn to associate people with food. Dispose of fish scraps in garbage cans at boat ramps and fish camps – do not throw them in the water. Although you are not intentionally feeding alligators when you do this, the end result can be the same.
• Keep your distance if you see one. Alligators may look lethargic but can move quickly. Observe and photograph alligators only from a safe distance. Remember, they are an important part of Florida’s natural history as well as an integral component of freshwater ecosystems.
• Swim only in designated swimming areas during daylight hours. Alligators are most active between dusk and dawn.
• Keep pets away from the water (at least 10 feet from the water’s edge).
• Leave alligators alone. State law prohibits killing, harassing or possessing alligators except under permit.
The FWC says it encourages anyone who believes a specific alligator poses a threat to people, pets or property to call the Nuisance Alligator Hotline at (866) 392-4286. The organization gets an average of 15,000 nuisance alligator complaints annually.
- Fort Myers News-Press and Tampa Bay Times contributed to this report.