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Close Encounters: Exotic Animals in South Florida

August 9, 2016 | Category: Animal Attacks, Personal Injury | Share

Encounters with wildlife animals are becoming more and more frequent and it is important to understand how to protect yourself, your property and your loved ones.

The tragedy that unfolded in Orlando after a child was attacked and killed by an alligator while vacationing with his family has made many headlines recently. Encounters with alligators are frequent in South Florida and it is important to remember just how dangerous these animals are.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission offers the following safety tips for encounters with alligators:

  • Leave alligators alone. State law prohibits killing, harassing or possessing alligators.
  • If you encounter any alligator that you believe poses a threat to people, pets or property, call the Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-FWCGATOR (866-392-4286).
  • Be aware of the possibility of alligators when you are in or near fresh or brackish water.
  • Do not swim outside of posted swimming areas or in waters that might be inhabited by large alligators.


Alligators are not the only dangerous animals living in South Florida. People must also remain respectful of panthers as encounters with these animals have continued to rise. As with alligators, there are steps you can take if you ever encounter a panther.

  • Leave panthers alone. Most panthers want to avoid humans. Give a panther the time and space to steer clear of you.
  • Keep children close to you, especially outdoors between dusk and dawn. Educate them about panthers and other wildlife they might encounter.
  • Running may stimulate a panther’s instinct to chase. Stand and face the animal. Make eye contact.

Black Bears

Recently, Fort Myers’ wildlife officials captured a black bear near downtown. These animals can pose a significant threat to people and property and they should always be treated with respect. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has provided advice on how to keep bears away from humans.

  • Leave bears alone. Never approach a bear and certainly never feed one. “A fed bear is a dead bear.”
  • Secure household garbage in a shed, garage or a wildlife-resistant container.
  • Feed pets indoors or bring in dishes after feeding.
  • Clean grills and store them in a locked, secure place.


There is also a growing population of pythons in South Florida. These animals are native to the tropics of southern and southeastern Asia where these gigantic snakes can grow as long as 19 feet. Unfortunately, these pythons have already had a significant impact on the ecosystems of the Everglades.

Pythons can pose a danger to people – especially small children – but they are far more likely to attack and kill pets. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission asks that anyone who encounters a python in the wild report the sighting.

As with alligators, panthers and bears: Leave pythons alone. Pythons do not tend to pose a threat to humans, but they will attack if threatened or cornered. Give these animals, and all wildlife, a respectful amount of time and distance.

Always remember that alligators, panthers, bears and pythons are wild and potentially dangerous animals. Florida law regulates who can keep these animals in captivity, but none of these animals are meant to be kept as pets. When these animals become unmanageable, they either escape, are killed or are sent to sanctuaries.

If you are ever injured by an exotic animal contact Fort Myers personal injury attorney Randall Spivey. A personal injury attorney may be able to help ensure that the individual responsible for the dangerous animal is held accountable for the harm that animal causes.  Contact the Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A. today.

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