What To Do if You See an Alligator Near Your Home

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Tony Maples Photography


Alligators and humans have been sharing the same bodies of water, swamps, and marshes in Texas for many centuries. In fact, historians believe that the Karankawa Indians of the Gulf Coast smeared their bodies with alligator fat in an attempt to ward off those most tenacious of little Texans: The mosquito. Many people are unnecessarily fearful of alligators and Texas Parks and Wildlife fields calls from concerned citizens all year about alligator sightings

Greg Creacy, a wildlife biologist based in Bastrop, explains that the number of attacks by alligators in the U.S. each year is less than injuries and fatalities from dogs, scorpions, snakes, and sharks. All of those are much more dangerous to people than alligators.

Hunting and habitat loss threatened the species with extinction by the 1950s, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The population has since rebounded, and American alligators were removed from the endangered species list in 1987. Now, more and more people are reportedly seeing alligators on their properties. Many of these people live in high-volume, active, and populated residential areas. Just like most other native animals in Texas, as progress and construction take over our natural spaces, the animals who make those areas their home migrate. Oftentimes, this migration is into populated areas.

Texas Parks and Wildlife offers some tips on what to do if you happen upon an alligator near your home or other populated areas:

Wait It Out

alligators on bank

Photo: Facebook/Houstonurbanwildlife

If the alligator is not approaching people or otherwise posing an obvious threat, wait a few days if possible, even up to a week, before contacting the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Listen For A Hiss

alligator in grass

Photo: Flickr/Robert Berkowitz

If you hear the alligator hiss, that means you’re too close. Back away slowly. 

More Afraid of You, Than You Are of Them

alligator and walker

Photo: Facebook/Texas Parks and Wildlife

Alligators have a natural fear of humans and usually begin a quick retreat when approached by people. If you have a close encounter with an alligator a few yards away, back away slowly. It is extremely rare for wild alligators to chase people, but they can run up to 35 miles per hour for short distances on land.

Nuisance Animals Are A Different Story

dead alligator

Photo: Facebook/Texas Parks and Wildlife

If you walk near the water and an alligator comes straight toward you, especially if it comes out of the water, it is definitely a nuisance alligator that needs to be reported to Texas Parks and Wildlife. In many cases, these are alligators that have been fed by people or have been allowed to get human food.

Leave Them Alone! 

baby alligator

Photo: Facebook/Brazos Bend State Park

Never kill, harass, molest, or attempt to move alligators. State law prohibits such actions, and the potential for being bitten or injured by a provoked alligator is high.

For more information of alligators in Texas, visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.