Wildlife Safety

Remember to respect the Florida wildlife and native sea life and keep a safe distance when viewing them in their natural habitats.


Alligator season peaks in May. Alligators live in most of Florida's ponds, streams, lakes and rivers. The height of alligator mating season is in May, when mature male gators often find their way into residential pools in search of female gators. They're plentiful and feisty this time of year, so give them plenty of space. Always stay clear of baby alligators, whose mothers are often close by. Never feed an alligator and do not wade in waters that alligators are known to inhabit. Alligators are attracted to food sources by sound and may attack if they hear you thrashing about.

Sea Turtles

Sea turtle at Mote Aquarium

May 1-Oct. 31 is sea turtle nesting season. Sarasota County has the highest density of loggerhead sea turtles nesting on Florida's west coast. For five months, female loggerheads crawl up the beach and lay their eggs in the sand. Staff from Sarasota County and Mote Marine Laboratory, along with turtle patrol volunteers, keep a sharp eye and mark the nests with stakes to protect the eggs until they hatch. Because sea turtles are confused by artificial light, it is crucial that shoreline lights be dimmed or turned off during this period. Structures and obstacles left on the beach make it difficult for female loggerheads to find suitable nesting grounds, so please remove any items you bring to the beach.


Raccoons can be irresistible, but they can bite and scratch and often carry rabies. If you see one rummaging through a trash bin, keep your distance, and do not feed them. Keep ice chests tightly closed and food stored away.

Most of Sarasota County's snakes are harmless black racers, rat snakes and garter snakes. Venomous varieties include the pygmy and diamondback rattlesnakes, cottonmouths and coral snakes. Snakes use their venom to kill prey, rarely injecting venom in self-defense. Still, never put your hands anywhere that you cannot see into. Remain calm if bitten and seek immediate medical attention.