Alligator experts discuss how to stay safe: 'Give yourself a good buffer'

The Sunshine State has no shortage of alligators. The good thing is that it also has a few alligator experts too.

One of those experts is Fran Robb, who goes by the name "Alligator Robb." He said the big reptiles aren't deliberately hostile. "So this whole idea that alligators are more aggressive in mating season or springtime, that's 100% not the case. They're just more active."

Robb said more Florida development leads to more run-ins between humans and gators. "There are more and more homes being built against conservation areas, between existing water bodies that are already there."

Brandon Fisher is an alligator expert at Gatorland theme park. He said the warm weather has them out looking for food, and love. "We had a really warm winter, and so alligators are starting to become a little more active. You might see them popping up in stories and places they're not supposed to be."

They say there's no lucky charm or magic talisman for keeping alligators away. You can reduce the risk of meeting an alligator face-to-face with common sense. "You want to give yourself a good buffer, whether you're walking your pets, jogging, or walking yourself by the water. Give yourself at least 25 feet around the water's edge."

Robb said never to feed any of Florida’s wildlife, including the animals that alligators eat. "Next thing you know, you have a friendly neighborhood alligator. That's the reason I always tell people if you're feeding one thing, you're feeding all the things, that's just the way it works."

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has a hotline set up to report nuisance alligators at 866-392-4286.