Warm spring weather means alligators are more active and more visible. Rising temperatures increase an alligator’s metabolism, which means they begin seeking prey. Occasionally you’ll see them basking in the sun as they regulate their body temperature. Alligator mating season begins in early April and goes into June.
All of this means that you may encounter an alligator when walking near the water, participating in recreational water activities, or if the alligator has been fed and become habituated to humans. While we do not wish to inspire fear, we do want to take this opportunity to remind our owners and guests to always use caution around bodies of water and to remain vigilant of your surroundings.
Alligators are fascinating creatures and should by all means be enjoyed as part of the natural beauty of our region. According to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), alligator attacks are exceedingly rare and the animals are usually afraid of people. Still, they are large carnivorous predators and should be respected as such. A few precautions on our part can help both humans and alligators coexist safely.
What should I do if I encounter an alligator I believe to be aggressive or habituated to humans?
Alligators are regularly observed in and around bodies of water in Palmetto Dunes. If you encounter an alligator that is aggressive or have a safety concern, please call Dispatch at 843-785-1120.
How does the PDPOA handle reports of aggressive or habituated alligators?
SCDNR establishes procedures for managing alligators, and permits removal of alligators who exhibit aggressiveness, habituated behavior towards humans, illness/injury, or inhabit a recreational swimming area. When we receive a call at the PDPOA, a Security officer is dispatched in an attempt to locate the alligator. Additionally, a third-party wildlife service provider is contacted to locate and/or monitor the alligator. Our Security Department will rely on the recommendation of the wildlife service provider in determining if an alligator should be harvested.
What happens to an alligator once removed?
Once they become too familiar with people, alligators lose their fear of humans, necessitating their removal for the safety of everyone concerned. All removed alligators are exterminated per South Carolina State Law. Relocation is illegal due the creatures’ strong homing instinct.
Concerns about having negative encounters with alligators can largely be dissolved with common sense and an understanding of alligator behavior. Below are several tips for safety. We encourage you to share these with your visiting family members, friends, and guests.
- Do not feed alligators. When alligators start associating people with food, they will be more likely to approach you. Do not feed ducks, turtles, fish, or any other animals inhabiting water either. This food source attracts alligators and similarly trains them to associate humans with food.
- Be aware of your surroundings. If you’re in an alligator-friendly habitat—just about any body of water in the Lowcountry—be mindful of your environment.
- Keep your distance. If you encounter an alligator, walk backwards and back away from it. A safe distance from an adult alligator should be maintained at about 60 feet. If the alligator hisses or lunges at you, you are too close.
- Keep your pets and children away from alligators. Large alligators do not recognize the difference between domestic pets and wild food sources. When they are hungry, alligators act on their hunting instinct. Do not allow pets or children to swim in, drink, or play at the edge of waters inhabited by alligators. To an alligator, any splash potentially means a food source is in the water.