There are an estimated 1.3 million alligators in Florida — they live in each of the state’s 67 counties and can be found in nearly all its fresh and brackish water bodies — but attacks are rare.
The likelihood of a Florida resident being seriously injured during an unprovoked alligator attack is about one in 3.2 million, the commission said on its website.
There have been 401 unprovoked alligator bites between 1948 and 2017, the commission said, and of those 24 resulted in fatalities. Over the last 10 years, Florida averaged six bites per year that were serious enough to require professional medical treatment.
The most recent death in Florida happened in 2016, when a 2-year-old boy was snatched by an alligator while playing in a lagoon at a Disney resort. He died of drowning and traumatic injuries.
Last year, a 10-year-old girl narrowly escaped an alligator attack in Orlando.
“She was able to pry the alligator’s mouth open and remove her leg,” a spokeswoman for the commission said at the time.
Residents are advised to avoid feeding alligators, keep a safe distance and make sure pets stay on a leash, away from the water’s edge. Dogs are especially attractive to alligators.
“Alligators are opportunistic feeders and will eat animals that are readily available to them,” the commission’s fact sheet says. “They prefer to go after prey they can overpower easily. Opportunity is the primary factor that causes an alligator to pursue prey.”